Home > Kyoto Annual Events - Current Events

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

May's Top-picked Events

May 1st marks the first ''Yuka'' day of the year

''Yuka'' is a wooden veranda extending east toward the river from many restaurants that line the bank, offering an unforgettable location for relaxing, enjoying a fine dinner or even just dessert or drinks, while absorbing the serendipitous effect of the beautiful views over the Kamo River and the eastern skyline. May is the best month to appreciate the true charms of Yuka as the sun is not too intense and is one of only two months, along with September, when lunch is served.

Every Day
Hozu River Boat Ride

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

On Hozu River; The boat 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 and 15:30 (7 services).

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

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

April 29-May 5
Mibu Kyogen

At Mibu Temple; The Buddhist Saint Enkaku used Buddhist sutras in special theatre plays to spread Buddhism to the people; The plays are performed between 13:00 and 17:30; Five of 30 kyogen plays are performed each day.

1,000 yen; Kyoto City Bus #26, 28, get off at Mibudera-michi; www.mibudera.com

Until May 6
Okazaki Jikkoku-bune Boat Ride

On Okazaki Canal; Small boat will take visitors along a canal surrounded by fresh green; Depart from the Nanzen-ji Temple boat park (in front of Biwako Sosui Memorial Museum).

Between 9:30 and 16:30; 1,200 yen; Subway Tozai Line, Keage Stn.; kyoto-tabi.or.jp/events/jkkfn/_en/

Until May 16
Spring Special Opening ''Flower Ceiling''

At Hiraoka Hachiman-gu Shrine; This shrine was built by Kobo Daishi Kukai 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 (1603-1868).

800 yen; 10:00-16:00 (enter by 15:30); JR Bus Hiraoka Hachiman.

Until May 25
Spring Special Opening of Temple Treasure House

At To-ji Temple; Famous temple headquarters exhibits its Mikkyo (esoteric Buddhist) mandala art; Temple’s treasury hall and the first floor of the five-story pagoda (National Treasure) will be open to the public.

500 yen (Treasury Hall); 9:00-17:00 (enter by 16:30); Kintetsu Kyoto Line ''To-ji'' or Kyoto City Bus #16, 17, 42, 78, get off at Toji Nanmon-mae; www.toji.or.jp

Until June 14
Ohara-me Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In the Ohara Village; The village is intimately connected to classical Japanese history and literature; The Oharame ''maiden of Ohara'' is a historical female peddler who sold firewood from the village in the city of Kyoto; Oharame costume experience (reservations required; kimono dressing; 1,500 yen; 10:00-14:00); On May 11th, Ohara-me Procession (public participation welcomed; 1,500 yen) starts from Jakko-in Temple (13:00).

Kyoto Bus #17, 18, get off at Ohara; Ohara Hosho-kai: https://kyoto-ohara-kankouhosyoukai.net/

May 1-4
Nenbutsu Kyogen

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Senbon Enma-do Temple; Kyogen is a traditional comic play originally started as a way of spreading Buddhist teachings to the general public; May 1st & 2nd from 19:00; May 3rd & 4th from 13:00, and from 18:00.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Senbon Kurama-guchi; yenmado.blogspot.com

May 1-5
Fujinomori Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Fujinomori Shrine; Established before the capital was moved to Kyoto in 794, Fujinomori Shrine is host to the Fujinomori Festival (aka Fukakusa Festival). The Kakeuma Shinji on the 5th (13:00 & 15:00) is an astonishing acrobatic horse riding event. With origins from when samurai once honed their equestrian skills,the event shows off their creative ways to ride that proved useful in the battlefield. Today, the tradition of performing those tricks are regarded as an offering to the gods of military prowess. Fujinomori Shrine in southern Kyoto continues to practice this dynamic ritual during their annual Fujinomori Festival.

Access: JR Nara line, Fujinomori Stn.; www.fujinomorijinjya.or.jp

May 1-5
Spring Antique Book Fair

At Miyako Messe; One of the largest indoor antique book fairs in Japan; All kinds of books (classics, academic books, art books, novels, paperbacks, etc.) will be sold by about 40 book shops; 10:00-16:45 (until 16:00 on the last day).

Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Okazaki Koen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae.

May 1-24
Kamogawa Odori

At Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre; The maiko and geiko of Pontocho will perform their annual elegant spring dance and show; Show times: 12:30, 14:20, 16:10.

4,800 yen (special seats with tea service), 4,200 yen (special seats), 2,300 yen (general seats); Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Kawaramachi Sanjo; Pontocho Kabu-kai: https://www.kamogawa-odori.com/

May 2-4
Shinsen-en Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Shinsen-en Temple; May 2nd, Buddhist sutra chanting ceremony from 14:00, Japanese drum performance from 19:30; May 3rd, gagaku court music and dance from 16:00, open-air tea ceremony 10:00-15:00.

Kyoto City Bus #9, 50, get off at Horikawa Oike or Tozai Subway Line, Nijojo-mae Stn.; www.shinsenen.org

May 3-5
Citizen's Tea Party

At Nijo Castle; In the beautiful Seiryu-en Garden, traditional tea ceremony will be hosted by two different schools; A great opportunity to enjoy green tea as well as see the Ninomaru Palace (National Treasure) and garden.

2,000 yen (entry to the castle and 2 tea ceremonies); 10:00-15:00; Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Nijojo-mae or Subway Tozai Line, Nijojo-mae Stn.; http://nijo-jocastle.city.kyoto.lg.jp/

May 5
Grand Annual Festival

At Jishu Shrine: A small temple located inside the Kiyomizu Temple; Procession of people in traditional costumes from 13:00 will go along Sannenzaka, Ninen-zaka to Chawan-zaka, returning to the main hall at around 14:30.

400 yen (admission to Kiyomizu Temple); Kyoto City Bus #207, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; www.jishujinja.or.jp

May 8
Yamakage Shrine Annual Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Yoshida Shrine; This unusual festival is held to thank the ancestral god of cooking, eating and drinking; Traditional fish cutting ritual can be seen from 14:00.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kyo-dai Seimon-mae; (Yoshida Shrine); www.yoshidajinja.com

May 11 & 25
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; 11th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 25th at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

May 12
Kanko-sai Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Matsuno-o Taisha Shrine; Mikoshi portable shrines and costumes of the shrine priests and other participants will be decorated with aoi (hollyhock) leaves; The 6 mikoshi are carried out from the nearby shrine hall at 12:00 and the procession proceeds to the main shrine hall (around 19:45).

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

May 18
Uesaku Festival

At Kurama Temple; On the night of the full moon in May, many Buddhist priests will pray to the deity for world peace (from 19:00); This festival has been held for many centuries and is similar to certain Himalayan festivals and other special festivals held in southeast Asian Buddhist countries.

300 yen; Eizan Railways, Kurama Stn.; www.kuramadera.or.jp

May 19
Mifune Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In Arashiyama; Hosted by Kurumazaki Shrine, the Mifune Matsuri ''Three Boats Festival'' takes place on the scenic Oi River. Starting about 1,100 years ago when Emperor Uda enjoyed boat riding in this area, the origins of the festival are in the worshipping of artistically talented gods. People recreate an elegant Heian period pastime, where nobles enjoyed various refined entertainments while leisurely boating on the river.

Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen.

May 19 & 26
Saga Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The two main highlights of the festival are Shinkosai Festival (19th) and Kankosai Festival (26th) where the mikoshi of both shrines are paraded. In the Kankosai, the large procession parades to Daikaku-ji Temple and the Togetsu-kyo Bridge. A must-see is the Kenboko (decorated spear-like poles) and Shishimai (lion dance) walking around Arashiyama and Sagano.

Kankosai Festival (26th): the mikoshi departure from the Otabisho (10:00)–Daikaku-ji Temple (12:00) – Arashiyama (14:30) – Otabisho (17:00); Access to the Otabisho: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Saga Shakado-mae; www.nonomiya.com

May 23 - 26
Kyoto Power of Culture Project ''Tea Ceremony''

At Bundo Hall, Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; Experience the world of tea ceremony with matcha and sweets and learn about the history and etiquette of tea ceremony; Instructions provided in English (May 23 & 25) and Chinese (May 24 & 26).

500 yen; 10:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #50, 101, get off at Kitano Tenmangu; culture-project.kyoto

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


May 5
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.

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

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

May 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.

May 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.

May 25
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.

May 26
Kamigamo Shrine: Handicrafts, arts, food, and more; 9:00-16:00

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