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December Event Highlights 2017

See, touch and experience the Old Capital What's on this month!
*Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.

Pick Up Event 1

Dec. 1-18
A Must-not-miss Annual Event in Kyoto
Starring Actors from East and West

The Name Succession of Nakamura Shikan VIII and his three sons, Hashinosuke IV, Fukunosuke III and Utanosuke IV (from right); Photo by Daisuke Araki

Matinee 11:00 AM
Evening Show 4:00 PM
Show time: Approx. 4 hours 15 min. (including 2 or 3 intermissions)

Experience the world of Kabuki, a traditional Japanese theatrical art form that is also widely appreciated by theater lovers around the world. This is the only chance in the year that many famous Kabuki actors come together in Kyoto and perform.

1st Class : 20,000 yen, 2nd Class : 12,000 yen, Upper Tier A : 8,000 yen, Upper Tier B : 5,000 yen, Upper Tier C : 3,500 yen

*Cash (Japanese Yen only) and major credit cards will be accepted.
*English Earphone Guide (Audio Translation Guide Service) is available to rent.

Ticket Purchase
Online (English): http://www1.ticket-web-shochiku.com/en/
Tickets on the day are also available.
*Tickets cannot be returned or exchanged after purchase or money refunded.

At ROHM Theatre Kyoto, Main Hall

Pick Up Event 2

Dec. 8-17
Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro - 2017
17:00-20:30 (rain-or-shine)

Togetsu-kyo Bridge

Arashiyama Hanatouro, one of the most popular large-scale modern events in the Old Capital, is staged every December in the Saga Arashiyama district. An approx. 5-km path will be lined with a number of lanterns made using Kyoto craft techniques and materials. Along the route, visitors will also find a number of huge ikebana ower arrangement displays.

Bamboo Forest

*During the event period, the night time special opening/light-up will be held at some surrounding temples/shrines; Also various events are scheduled to be held; For details, see their website: www.hanatouro.jp/e

Photos courtesy of Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

Pick Up Event 3

Romantic Winter Illumination in Kyoto


Head quarter of ROHM Building
Until Dec. 25 (16:45-22:00): Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Nishioji Gojo

Kyoto Hotel Okura
Until Dec. 25 (17:30-24:00): Northeast corner of Kawaramachi and Oike.

Dec. 1-25 (17:30-22:00): Access: Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Karasuma Subway Line, Takeda Stn.; get off at Pulse Plaza-mae.

Kyoto Botanical Garden
Dec. 15-25 (17:30-20:00; enter by 19:30): Admission: 200 yen; Access: Karasuma Subway line, Kitayama Stn..

Until Dec. 29
Sagano Romantic Train Ride

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The Sagano Romantic Train route (7.3 km) runs from Saga to Kameoka along a gorgeous river gorge and passes through 8 old tunnels; No service on Wed. (except for holidays and during the tourist season).

Tickets: 620 yen (one way); Access: JR Saga Arashiyama Stn.; www.sagano-kanko.co.jp

Every Day
Hozugawa Kudari River Boat Ride

The Hozugawa Kudari is a river ride that goes from Kameoka to Arashiyama, Kyoto (about 16 km in 2 hours) along a stunning river gorge with rapids and wonderful mountain views; Boats depart every hour between 10:00-14:30 (the last boat departs at 14:30). *No operation from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4.

Tickets: 4,100 yen; 2,700 yen (4-12 years old); Access: An 8-min. walk from the north exit of JR Sagano Line Kameoka Stn.; Tel: 0771-22-5846 (Hozugawa Yusen Association); www.hozugawakudari.jp

Dec. 1
Kencha Festival at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine

The origin of this ritual dates back to 1587 when the warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi held a big tea party at the shrine; The ceremony starts from 10:00; A tea ceremony is held and people can enjoy a bowl of matcha green tea (9:00-15:00).

Tickets: 5,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; Tel: 075- 461-0005; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Dec. 2 & 9 & Jan. 13 & 27
Sake Tasting Night at Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei/Honganji

The host, Mr. Davidson, will lead participants into the unknown Sake World and share ideas on how to enjoy tasting sake to its utmost.

Tickets: 2,000 yen; 18:00-19:00; Reservation required; 9th and Jan. 13th & 27th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 2nd at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Dec. 3
Shimai Daikoku Festival at Jishu Shrine (in Kiyomizu Temple)

The ceremony starts from 14:00 at this small shrine located in the precinct of Kiyomizu Temple; Prayers are offered to the deity and people pray for a healthy life for the next year.

Entry: 400 yen to enter Kiyomizu Temple; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizumichi; Tel: 075-541-2097; www.jishujinja.or.jp

Dec. 7 & 8
Daikon White Radish Ceremony at Senbon Shaka-do Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This event is held to celebrate the day on which Buddha achieved enlightenment; Eating radish (daikon) is believed to dispel misfortune; The Seido-kai memorial service is held on Dec. 8, from 10:00.

Admission free; Boiled white radish offerings are available between 10:00 and 16:00 on both days for 1,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; Tel: 075-461-5973; www.daihoonji.com

Dec. 8
Needles Ceremony at Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple

This temple has attracted worshippers for centuries who wish to improve their hand sewing and entertainment performance skills; A special service to express one's gratitude for used needles is held from 13:00 until 14:00 on this day; People bring used needles from all over Japan and pray for better sewing skills and family happiness; A traditional Japanese dance performance and free sweet sake offering will be held as well.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-862-0013; www.kokuzohourinji.com

Dec. 12
Announcement of This Year's Kanji Character at Kiyomizu Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

''Kanji that express the year,'' which symbolizes the social trend of the year from a nationwide perspective, the chief priest then writes the character of the year on a large sheet of paper on the stage in front of the huge crowd, purifying this year's sins so as to welcome an auspicious new year.

Entry: 400 yen; From 14:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-551-1234; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp

Dec. 13
Koto Hajime Year End Greetings in Gion

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

From around 10:00, geiko and maiko in each Kagai (maiko & geiko districts) set out to visit their teachers and others to thank them for their support; They bring kagami-mochi, a special New Year’s rice cake to their teachers.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion.

Dec. 13 & 14
The Kyoto Cuisine Exhibition at the Miyako Messe

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A number of Kyoto's top Japanese restaurants display their best dishes, their cooking skills and the beautiful appearance of their dish arrangements; Part of the event includes a performance of the Shiki Bocho, a Japanese cooking knife ceremony and a tea ceremony performance; Dining areas are also a fun part of this event.

Tickets: 800 yen; 10:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, 100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae; Tel: 075-221-5833 (Kyoto Cuisine Association); www.miyakomesse.jp

Dec. 13-25
Ofuku Ume Plum Service at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine

People drink a special tea on the morning of New Year's Day to ensure a healthy new year; Ofuku Ume Plums for this special tea will be available from this day (700 yen/6 plums) until the stock runs out at the shrine.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; Tel: 075-461-0005; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Dec. 13-31
Kakure Nenbutsu Buddhist Sutra Chanting at Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple

When Kyoto was struck by a serious plague in 951, the Buddhist monk Kuya held a dancing and sutra chanting ritual to stop the plague; Nenbutsu Odori, a Buddhist chant dance originally developed from this ritual, will be performed from 16:00.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-561-6980; www.rokuhara.or.jp

Dec. 15-25
The Old Mitsui Family Shimogamo Villa Special Light-up & Contemporary Art Exhibition

This villa was established in 1925 and consists of outstanding Japanese elements from different periods; A modern art exhibition featuring Japanese and Chinese artists will be held on the 2nd floor of the main building and tea ceremony room during the day; Light-up will be held around the outside of the main building (no entry to interior).

Entry: 1,200 yen for Art Exhibition (9:00-16:30); 700 yen for the light-up (18:00-20:30); Closed on Dec. 20; A 5-min. walk from Demachiyanagi Stn. of Keihan Railway or Eizan Railway; kyokanko.or.jp/mitsuike/english.html

Dec. 20
Susuharai Temple Cleaning at Higashi & Nishi Hongan-ji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Buddhist priests and other citizens from all over Japan journey to these two important temples on this day to participate in the yearend cleaning; They clean in a very interesting manner such as wiping the tatami mats moving all together in a long line and fanning the dust out of the hall using huge hand-held fans all at the same time.

Admission free; Nishi Hongan-ji Temple: From 7:00, Higashi Hongan-ji Temple: From 9:00; Access: Nishi Hongan-ji Temple; Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Nishi Honganji-mae; Higashi Hongan-ji Temple: A 7-min. walk from JR Kyoto Stn.

Dec. 23
Kabocha Pumpkin Ceremony at Yata Temple

This pumpkin special ceremony starts from 10:00; A pumpkin is set in front of the main hall and people come to touch it to ward off illness; Visitors will receive free cooked pumpkin (limited to the first 1,000 people).

Admission free; Access: Subway Tozai Line, Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Stn.; Tel: 075-241-3608.

Dec. 25
Ominugui Buddhist Statue Cleaning at Chion-in Temple

Ominugui, Buddhist statue cleaning, starts from 13:00; The wooden statue of the Buddhist saint, Honen, will be cleaned by monks with fine cotton cloths to ward off misfortune.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Chionin-mae; Tel: 075-531-2111; www.chion-in.or.jp

Dec. 31-Jan. 1
Okera Mairi Visit at Yasaka Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

People light okera-bi, a thin straw rope, and bring it back home to light the first fire of the New Year; Ohara-e purification ritual starts at 15:00 and the Joya New Year's Eve Festival at 19:00.

Admission free; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; Tel: 075-561-6155; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Dec. 3
To-ji Temple: This market is focused on antiques of all kinds; Usually not too crowded and great value all around; 7:00-16:00.

Dec. 8, 18, 28
Toyokuni Shrine: A very small market offering local products; 10:00-15:00.

Dec. 15
Chion-ji Temple: Kyoto's largest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade items at incredible prices; 8:00-16:00.

Dec. 21
To-ji Temple: Also known as Kobo-san, this mega temple market offers everything and is extremely popular; Go early, especially if on a weekend or a national holiday; 5:00-16:00.

Dec. 23
Kyoto Okazaki Marche: Strictly selected authentic handmade goods will be on sale at Tsutaya bookshop's open space in the Okazaki area; 11:00-17:00.

Dec. 24
Kamigamo Shrine: Handicrafts, arts, food, and more; 9:00-16:00.

Dec. 25
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine: Also known as Tenjin-san, a super shrine market sprawling in and around this major shrine complex; 6:00-16:30.

NOTE: Markets shut down much earlier in autumn and winter; When the days get longer and warmer, sellers tend to stay a little longer.