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December Event Highlights 2015

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

Lit-up Winter in Kyoto
Winter in Kyoto is freezing, nevertheless, a seasonal festive atmosphere makes people excited. Some special illuminations make the city more brilliant every year.

Note: The time and dates are subject to change.

The Kyoto Station Building (17:00-22:30, until Dec. 25)
A 22-meter-tall Christmas tree will be set up in the middle of the Muromachikoji Square, symbolizing the 50th anniversary of a sister-city relationship with Florence, Italy; Access: JR Kyoto Stn..

Kyoto Hotel Okura (sunset-24:00, until Dec. 25)
The road side trees around the hotel, northeast corner of Kawaramachi and Oike, will be gorgeously sparkling; Access: Subway Tozai Line, Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Stn..

The Kyoto Botanical Garden (17:30-19:30, until Dec. 12-25)

The Kyoto Botanical Garden

Lit-up trident maples and a hundred kinds of poinsettias will welcome you. A mini concert will also be held; Admission: 200 yen; Access: Subway Karasuma Line, Kitayama Stn.

The ROHM Building (16:45-22:00, until Dec. 25)
82 trees with 800,000 lights, and a spectacular illumination and sound show will make your stay this winter in Kyoto unforgettable; Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Nishioji Gojo

The KYOCERA Head Office (17:30-22:00, until Dec. 25)

The KYOCERA Illumination 2015

An 86-meter giant Christmas tree display (from Dec. 14) and roughly 200,000 LEDs of various colors are just breath-taking. There will also be a classical concert performed by students, at the lobby of Kyocera headquarters, at 6 pm on Dec. 21. Access: Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn.; get off at Pulse Plaza-mae or Rakunan Express ''R'EX'' Bus from Kyoto Station; get off at Pulse Plaza/Kyocera-mae.

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 tourist season; but service available on Dec. 2).

Entry: 620 yen (one way); Access: JR Sagano Line, Saga Arashiyama Stn.; Sagano Kanko Tetsudo: Tel: 075-861-7444; http://www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/

Every Day
Hozugawa Kudari River Run

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

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 of rapids with 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; Access: An 8-min. walk from the north exit of JR Sagano Line Kameoka Stn.; Hozugawa Yusen Association: Tel: 0771-22-5846; www.hozugawakudari.jp/

Nov.30 - Dec. 26
''Kaomise'' Kabuki Performances at Minamiza Theatre

Minamiza Theatre during the Kaomise Kogyo (2014)

Lavish, stylized, and larger-than-life, kabuki theatre is one of Japan's most distinctive art forms, the origins of which can be traced to the heart of Kyoto; December is a standout period: it is the month of Kaomise, which brings together the top stars; The Kaomise features two long performances, but no one expects you to sit and be quiet throughout the performances; Relax and watch what catches your eye, marvel at the costumes, watch the fast set changes, and check out the souvenirs and sweets in the lobby.

Tickets: 5,500 yen - 27,000 yen; From 10:30 and 16:45; Tickets also available at the theatre's Box Office (10:00-18:00): Telephone: 0570-000-489 (Ticket Phone Shochiku): Access: Kyoto City Bus #201, 203, get off at Shijo Keihan-mae; www.kabuki-bito.jp/eng/top.html *Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.

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 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. 6
Shimai Daikoku Festival at Jishu Shrine (in Kiyomizu Temple)

The ceremony starts from 14:00; Prayers are offered to the deity and people pray for a healthy life for the next year.

Entry: 300 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 Memorial Service at Senbon Shaka-do Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

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

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
Memorial Service for Needles at Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple

This temple has attracted worshippers for centuries who wish to improve hand sewing and entertainment performance skills; A memorial service 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 also be held.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0069; http://www.kokuzohourinji.com/

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) go out to visit their teachers and others to thank them for their support; They bring kagami-mochi special New Year's rice cake to their teachers.

No entry fee; 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 during this event; Part of the event includes a performance of the Shiki Bocho Japanese cooking knife ceremony and a tea ceremony performance; Dining areas are also part of this event.

Tickets: 800 yen; 10:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, 100, get off at Okazaki Koen Bijutsukan, Heian Jingu-mae; Kyoto Cuisine Association

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 Plum for this special tea will be available from this day (700 yen) at the shrine.

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

Dec. 13-30
Kakure Nenbutsu Buddhist Sutra Chanting at Rokuhara Mitsu-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; A nenbutsu odori dance, which developed from this ritual, will be performed from 16:00.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-561-6980; www.rokuhara.or.jp/

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

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Buddhist priests and other people from all over Japan come to these two important temples on this day to clean them; Precleaning ritual.

No entry fee; 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; 7-min. walk from JR Kyoto Stn.

Dec. 23
Kabocha Pumpkin Memorial Service at Yata Temple

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

No entry fee; 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 with fine cotton cloth by monks to ward off misfortune.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Chion-in-mae; Tel: 075-531-2111; www.chion-in.or.jp/

Dec. 31
Okera Mairi Shrine Visit at Yasaka-jinja Shrine

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

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