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February Event Highlights 2019
See, touch and experience the Old Capital - What's on this month!
*Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.

Expect major traffic congestion during
the Kyoto Marathon on Feb. 17

Due to the Kyoto Marathon 2019, major traffic restrictions will be in place all over the city on Feb. 17th. Many large streets will be closed off during key stages of the race and this will severely affect travel in the city. Many key bus lines will either shut down or use alternate routes. If you are in the city that day, be sure to plan.

February's Top-picked Events


© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Getting Rid of Misfortune & Welcoming Spring February 3rd, one day before Risshun (the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar), is called Setsubun in Japan. Setsubun, literally ''season division,'' is one of the most important Japanese rituals of spring which involves a variety of symbolic demon exorcisms and rites.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In traditional homes, the whole family will join together in Mame-maki (bean throwing) and chant, ''Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!'' (''Out with the demons, in with good luck.''), then enthusiastically scatter dried soy beans about the house to bring good luck. Visit shrines and temples near you to get beans and obtain good fortune in Kyoto on Setsubun!

Yasaka Shrine (Feb. 2 & 3)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The ceremony starts from 13:00; Auspicious soy bean scattering, ama-sake (Japanese sweet sake) service and amulet offering; Beautiful maiko from all four of Kyoto's Kagai will join the bean scattering (dance from 13:00 & 15:00); Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Suga Shrine (Feb. 2 & 3)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

From 15:00 on the 2nd, the bean scattering ceremony will be held; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae.

Yoshida Shrine (Feb. 2-4)

Setsubun amulet and Fuku-mame beans distributed at Yoshida Shrine; © Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Largest Setsubun festival in the city; People come to burn old amulets, papers and other personal possessions in a huge bonfire; A number of food stalls will remain open until very late; The Setsubun ritual is from 18:00 on the 2nd; On the 3rd, the Karo-sai festival will be held from around 23:00 and its grounds will be packed with many people; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kyodai Seimon-mae; www.yoshidajinja.com

Rozan-ji Temple (Feb. 3)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Known as Oni Odori (demon dance), the Oni demon dance (from 14:00), with bean scattering from 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Furitsu Idai Byoin-mae.

Heian Jingu Shrine (Feb. 3)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Kyogen performance (11:30-14:00), Setsubun Festival (from 14:00), auspicious bean scattering (from 15:00); Free ama-sake service (all day); Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Okazaki Koen Bijutsukan Heian Jingumae; www.heianjingu.or.jp

Every Day
Hozu River Boat Ride

On Hozu River; 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 at 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 14:30; No operation on Feb. 7.

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

Until Mar. 3
Kyoto Ikebana Flower Arrangement Exhibition

In JR Kyoto Station Shinkansen Concourse; Masters from various ikebana schools will display their exquisite ikebana works as a special way of welcoming visitors; To enter the concourse, buy a platform ticket (120 yen).

6:00-23:00; JR Kyoto Stn.; Kyoto City Tourism Association: kyoto.travel/en

Fri., Sat., Sun. until Mar. 3
Night Time Tea Ceremony Tour

At Kodaiji Temple; Founded in the 16th century by Nene, the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, to commemorate his spirit; The tour includes tea ceremony, entry to the garden and a Japanese dinner (the tour lasts about 3 hours).

6,000 yen (reservation required by the previous day); sign-up 17:00-18:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; www.kodaiji.com

Jan. 26 - Feb. 2
Miyama Yukitouro

In Miyama Village; Miyama is a charming old village out of Kyoto City where the old folk culture of thatched roof houses and countryside life are still alive; Traditional thatched roof houses will be magically lit-up with a number of lanterns made with snow (or bamboo lantern when no snowfall); Gorgeous fireworks on the first and last day (from 18:40).

Access: Take JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Stn. to Hiyoshi, and take the local bus to Kita Stop; www.yukitouro.jp

Feb. 1 & 3
Yutate Ritual

At Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine; Holy water is boiled in a big iron pot and offered to the deity; A miko, a shrine maiden, holding a bamboo shoot scatters the water swiftly around the area to dispel bad spirits and pray for good health for the year.

Ritual starts from 12:00 on each day; Take cable car from Yawata Stn. on Keihan Line; www.iwashimizu.or.jp

Feb. 2
Hatsu Uma Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Fushimi Inari Shrine; Festival held from 8:00; Based on the legend that the shrine deity, Inari (protector of grains, especially rice, and thus wealth/business in general), descended from heaven to the top of Mt. Inari; People pray for success in business and a healthy family life.

JR Nara Line, Inari Stn. or Keihan Railways Main Line, Fushimi Inari Stn.; inari.jp

Feb. 2 & 3
Mibu Kyogen

At Mibu Temple; Mibu Kyogen performances (every hour between 13:00 and 20:00; Free of charge), a procession, goma prayer-stick burning fire ceremony, and special prayers.

Access: Kyoto City Bus #26, get off at Mibudera-michi; www.mibudera.com

Feb. 3
Setsubun Ritual in Machiya Town House

At Tondaya; An exquisite cultural facility where people can learn about and enjoy Kyoto's traditional lifestyle forms; Learn about Setsubun culture in this exquisite machiya town house filled with Kyoto's beautiful essence.

Lunch 10,000 yen (11:00-13:00); Dinner 15,000 yen (17:00-19:00); Lecture and machiya visit + tea ceremony + meal (reservations required from 2 people); Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi Seimeijinja-mae; www.tondaya.co.jp

Feb. 8
Hari Kuyo Ceremony for Pins & Needles

At Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple; The deity of needle work and entertainment; Professional seamstresses and housewives stick their used needles in a slab of rubbery jelly; Prayers at 13:00; Ama-sake (Japanese sweet sake) will be offered.

Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; www.kokuzohourinji.com

Feb. 8-Mar. 10
Early Spring Flowers and Plants Exhibition

At the Kyoto Botanical Garden; An approximately 10,000-piece collection of some 200 species of pretty spring flowers are gathered and exhibited on the special stage.

200 yen; 10:00-16:00; Subway Karasuma Line, Kitayama Stn; www.pref.kyoto.jp/en/02-02-10.html

Feb. 8-12
Hatsu Uma Daikon Radish Ceremony

At Sanzen-in Temple; Located in rural Ohara village in north east part of Kyoto city; A boiled white radish organically grown in the Ohara area will be offered to visitors free of charge; Prayers for health and good luck will be offered from 9:00.

700 yen; Kyoto Bus #17, 18, get off at Ohara; www.sanzenin.or.jp

Feb. 9 & 23
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.

2,000 yen; 18:00-19:00; Reservation required; 9th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 23rd at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Feb. 10 & 24
Dance Performance by Maiko and Geiko

At Fureai-kan Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts; Dance performance by an authentic maiko (apprentice of geiko) or geiko depending on the day; 3 shows at 14:00, 14:30, 15:00 (each show lasts about 15 min.).

Kyoto City Bus #5, #100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae; kmtc.jp

Feb. 11
Kigen-sai Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kamigamo Shrine; The festival is to commemorate the coronation of Emperor Kanmu and a children's karate performance (from around 10:15) and kemari, an ancient style soccer game (from around 11:00) will be held in the precinct.

Kyoto City Bus #46, get off at Kamigamo Jinja-mae; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Feb. 11
Rice Porridge Offering

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Jonan-gu Shrine; To pray for health and longevity, rice porridge with seven different kinds of Japanese spring herbs will be offered (10:00-16:00; 500 yen per bowl).

600 yen (entry to the garden); Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; www.jonangu.com

Hoshi Matsuri Fire Ceremony

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Agon-shu main temple; The ceremonies, conducted through secret rites of esoteric Buddhism, pray for individual happiness throughout the year, as well as for world peace and prosperity. Two giant sacred wooden pyres are lit, one, of the Shinto realm, for the good luck and wishes of the living, and one, of the Buddhist realm, for the peace of the departed spirits. Goma-gi, or prayer sticks, are available for inscription for both sacred fires. The opening lighting of the pyres is followed by chanting, traditional dances, music, and prayers throughout the day.

9:30-15:30; Take the shuttle bus from Kyoto Station, Hachijoguchi exit, every 15 min., direct to site (about 20 min; 300 yen); www.agon.org

Feb. 17-24
Design Week Kyoto 2019

Various locations throughout the city; Approx. 30 factories and sites within and around Kyoto City will be open, enabling visitors to see how articles are produced by craftspeople and artists as well as offering the chance to engage in conversations with the producers.

For details and bookings, visit their website: www.designweek-kyoto.com

Feb. 18- Mar. 22
Weeping Plum Blossoms and Camellia

At Jonan-gu Shrine; South of Kyoto station is Jonan-gu Shrine, a shrine that is hardly seen by foreigners because it is rarely mentioned in most guidebooks. The shrine was originally built in the 8th century as the detached imperial palace of Emperor Shirakawa and subsequent emperors.

With five separate gardens surrounding the main shrine area, visitors are able to enjoy a variety of natural offerings, particularly famous for its weeping plum blossoms of more than 150 varieties in late winter and early spring. 300 camellia trees will be in bloom in February and March, too. The deity of the shrine is said to have control over direction-based luck, so those about to move or take a trip might want to stop by and offer a prayer.

600 yen; 9:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; www.jonangu.com

Feb. 23
Godai Rikisan

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Juntei-do Hall in Sekizenin Temple; Five Forceful Bodhisattvas are displayed to the public only once a year; Worship led by yamabushi (mountain hermits) held from 13:00; Free soup made from a sake lees will be served.

10:30-17:00; Kyoto City Bus # 206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae.

Feb. 23
Godai Rikison Ninno-e

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Daigo-ji Temple; The Godairikison Ninno-e is held to pray for the immediate elimination of misfortunes and immediate creation of good fortune. The main highlight of the day is the ''Mochiage'' or ceremonial rice cake lifting contest; people compete to lift enormous mochi rice cakes: men: 150 kg and women: 90 kg, starting around noon.

A 10-min. walk from Daigo Stn. on the Subway Tozai Line; www.daigoji.or.jp

Feb. 25
Baika-sai Plum Blossom Viewing Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine is home to nearly 2,000 plum trees. The Plum Festival started as a ceremony of prayer for the repose of the soul of Sugawara no Michizane (845-903). The highlight of the festival is an outdoor tea ceremony, performed under the lovely plum blossoms by the geiko and maiko of the nearby Kamishichiken district. The faint scent of the pink & white blossoms of the picturesque plums will lead the visitors to the elegant world of the Heian-period.

Matcha green tea and a sweet for 1,500 yen (incl. entry to the Treasury Hall); Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Feb. 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.

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

Feb. 15
Chion-ji Temple: Kyoto's biggest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade items and incredible prices too!; 8:00-16:00.

Feb. 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; 8:00-16:00.

Feb. 23
Kyoto Okazaki Marche: Strictly selected authentic handmade goods will be sold at the open space of Tsutaya bookshop in the Okazaki area; 11:00-17:00.

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

Feb. 25
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine: Also known as Tenjin-san, this super shrine market sprawls in and around this major shrine complex; 7:00-16:30.

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