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September Event Highlights 2018
See, touch and experience the Old Capital - What's on this month!
*Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.

September's Top-picked Events

When the Full Moon Glows Brightest
Jugoya-Autumn Harvest Moon
Nowhere could be better suited for full moon viewing than amongst the timeless environment of Kyoto. Of all the year's twelve full moons, the September full moon, or harvest moon, is considered to be the most sublime in Japan.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

It is said that the moon viewing custom was introduced to Japan from China during the Nara (710-794) and Heian periods (794-1185). Moon viewing takes place on August 15th in the lunar calendar which is called jugoya, and means ''the night of the 15th.'' Jugoya in the present calendar changes every year and usually falls in September or October (September 24th in 2018). It is said that the moon on that night is the brightest and the most beautiful of the year.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In times past, and still even today, it was not uncommon for people to set up small tables by the window to enjoy the full moon light while eating tsukimi dango (rice and sweet bean dumplings made specially for the occasion), and sato-imo (Japanese taro). Sprays of susuki (pampas grass), which resembles the rice plant, and other autumn grasses are displayed on the verandah, along with neat clusters of tiny rice dumplings.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

On a more public level, celebrations are held at many temples and shrines in Kyoto.

Jugoya Moon Viewing Events
in Kyoto

Sept. 22-24
Daikaku-ji Temple's Osawa Pond

Emperor Saga (786-862) established his Saga Imepreial Villa in the Arashiyama area. He and many others invited court nobles and literati enjoyed boat rides on the pond, especially during the full moon evenings. Later, the villa was converted into a Buddhist temple and is known as Daikaku-ji Temple today.

Every year around the autumn harvest moon, a tea ceremony is held on the boats and participants can enjoy an elegant evening in a spectacular setting. A koto harp concert is also performed twice a day; 1,500 yen for boat ride and tea ceremony, 500 yen for tea by the pond (additional entrance fee required to enter the temple: 500 yen); 17:00-21:00; www.daikakuji.or.jp

Sept. 24
Shimogamo Shrine

During this moon viewing music festival, traditional dance and music, including koto harp music will be performed from 17:30. Tea ceremony: 1,000 yen; www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp

Sept. 24
Kamigamo Shrine

After a special dance performance, special sweet dumplings and sake will be offered to the first 300 people from 17:30; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Sept. 24
Hirano Shrine

Following a sacred ritual at 18:30, traditional song, dance and gagaku imperial music will be performed at around 19:00. Many night stalls selling souvenirs and food are set up in the shrine precinct. Matcha green tea will also be offered (500 yen with sweet).

Every Day
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 tourist season).

620 yen (one way); JR Sagano Line Saga Arashiyama Stn.; www.sagano-kanko.co.jp

Every Day
Hozu River Boat Ride

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

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 every hour between 9:00-15:30 (the last boat departs at 15:30); *Operated irregularly on Sat., Sun., national holidays.

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 Sept. 23 or 30
Ukai Cormorant Fishing In Arashiyama and Uji

Ukai is a traditional fishing method in which cormorants (large diving birds) are used to catch sweet river fish, or ayu; Tourists can watch the event either from the banks of the river or get a seat on a boat.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Arashiyama (Until Sept. 23): 1,800 yen, 900 yen (4-12 years old); 18:30-20:30; Boat ride: 18:30 & 19:30; Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0302 (Arashiyama Tsusen); arashiyama-yakatabune. com ; Uji (Until Sept. 30): 2,000 yen, 1,000 yen (6-12 years old); 18:30-19:30 (Reception from 17:30; Boarding from 18:00); Boarding area: Nakanoshima Park; Keihan Line, transfer at Chushojima Stn. to Uji Stn.; Tel: 0774-23-3334 (Uji City Tourist Association)

Sept. 1 & 2
Hassaku Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Matsuno-o Taisha Shrine; Local people hold a big ceremony to pray for a good autumn harvest and family safety; On the 1st, Bon Odori dance will be held from around 19:00; On the 2nd, from 8:00, sumo wrestling will be held and at 8:30 women carry a big mikoshi portable shrine; Dynamic Sagano Rokusai Nenbutsu dance will be performed from around 16:00 on the 2nd.

Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Matsuno-o Taishamae; www.matsunoo.or.jp

Sept. 7-Dec. 2
Special Opening of the Flower Ceiling

At Hiraoka Hachiman-gu Shrine; The shrine was built by Kukai (aka Kobo Daishi) in 809 as a guardian deity for the Jingo-ji Temple; The ceiling of the main hall is adorned with 44 colorful flower paintings from the Edo period (1600-1868).

800 yen (with Obuku-cha tea); 10:00-16:00 (enter by 15:30); *Closed on Sept. 30th; JR Bus ''Hiraoka Hachiman''.

Sept. 8 & 22
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; 8th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 22nd at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Sept. 9
Karasu Sumo Wrestling and Choyo Ceremony

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kamigamo Shrine; From 10:00, people offer chrysanthemum flowers at the main hall and pray; After the ritual, local children compete in the shrine's annual Karasu sumo wrestling event; A free cup of chrysanthemum sake will be offered to visitors.

Kyoto City Bus #4, 9, get off at Kamigamo-jinja-mae; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Sept. 14 & 15
Seiryu-e Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kiyomizu Temple; From 14:00, a long blue dragon (representing a sacred guardian of Kyoto) marionette carried by many men will dance through the temple precinct.

400 yen; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp

Sept. 15
Yoshitsune Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kurama Temple; From 11:00, a memorial ceremony will be held to commemorate the spirit of Yoshitsune Minamoto, the legendary Heian period samurai who once lived at this temple; After the ceremony, Japanese martial arts will be performed in front of the main hall.

300 yen; Kyoto City Bus #4 get off at Demachiyanagi-eki-mae and take Eizan Railway to Kurama Stn.; www.kuramadera.or.jp

Sept. 15-Nov. 25
Temple Treasure Special Opening

At Shogo-in Temple; On display in the Shinden Hall, there are about 100 sliding door paintings by successive Kano School painters, who reigned supreme in the art world of Japan for 400 years from the end of the Muromachi to the Edo period.

800 yen; 10:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae; www.shogoin.or.jp

Sept. 19
Free Public Opening of the Shin-en Garden

At Heian Jingu Shrine; The large Japanese stroll garden that surrounds the north side of the precinct of Heian Jingu Shrine is divided into four parts; This shrine's large scale garden will be open free of charge on this day.

8:30-16:30; Kyoto City Bus #5, 100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heianjingu-mae; www.heianjingu.or.jp

Sept. 21
Kamigyo Takigi Noh Performance

At Shiramine Jingu Shrine; From 16:00 and 18:00, a range of traditional entertainment (dance, noh, koto harp, etc.) will be performed; In the event of rain, the event will be held at the Kongo Noh Theatre.

2,500 yen; Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Horikawa Imadegawa; shiraminejingu.or.jp

Sept. 22 & 23
Seimei Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Seimei Shrine; On the 22nd, people holding lanterns form a procession from 19:00 to welcome the spirit of Seimei Abe after which a kagura dance and music performance will be held; On the 23rd, about 500 people march around the shrine precinct playing traditional music from 13:00.

Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi Seimeijinja-mae; www.seimeijinja.jp

Sept. 22-24
Hagi Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Nashinoki Shrine; During this festival, people write poems on a piece of paper and tie them to the branches of the shrine’s many flowering bush clovers; In the shrine hall, kyogen, dance and koto harp will be performed.

Ticket with tea: 800 yen or 1,500 yen (with a ceramic plate); Kyoto City Bus #17, 205, get off at Furitsu Idai Byoin-mae; nashinoki.jp

Sept. 23
Nishijin Traditional Cultural Festival

At Senryou-ga-tsuji; Senryo-ga-tsuji is an area which played an important role in the Nishijin district where a lot of a raw silk and woven fabric wholesalers started and prospered; Many traditional houses along Omiya Street are open to the public and exhibit their cultural heritages.

10:00-17:00; The event will be held along Omiya street, south of Imadegawa; Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi Seimeijinja-mae; www.senryougatsuji.com

Sept. 23
Takase-gawa Boat Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A ceremony will be held at the starting point of the Takasegawa canal; Maiko from Pontocho will serve green tea.

9:00-15:00; Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae.

Sept. 24
Comb Festival

© Moritz Marutschke

At Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine; This festival is dedicated to offering thanks to women's combs and hair ornaments; From 13:00, a ceremony is held and then a beautiful procession of women with their hair done in a wide range of styles spanning more than 1,300 years and wearing clothing from those periods will walk through the surrounding area.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; www.yasui-konpiragu.or.jp

Sept. 30
Sencha & Kencha Festival

At Heian Jingu Shrine; From 9:00, the Iemoto masters of the 6 schools of Sencha tea ceremony will perform tea ceremony for the deities of the shrine (the ceremony area is not open to the public); After the ceremony, green tea will be served to the public.

2,000 yen (2 cups of green tea); 9:00-15:00; Kyoto City Bus #5, 100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heianjingu-mae; www.heianjingu.or.jp

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Sept. 2
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.

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

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

Sept. 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.

Sept. 22
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.

Sept. 23
Kamigamo Shrine: Handicrafts, arts, food, and more; 9:00-16:00

Sept. 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.