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.

Pick Up Events1

Enjoy the beautiful lit-up scenes featuring an early-summer of marvelous scents
Spring Special Light-up Temples

During this time, important temples and shrines in the area will open at night. This is a great opportunity to see stunning gardens and building illuminations.

Until May 6
Hosen-in Temple

© Hosen-in

This small, quiet and beautiful temple situated in the northern rural area in Ohara of Kyoto, is a wonderful place to visit. Their garden is called a ''Framed-garden'' and also called Bankan-no-ma, meaning ''hard to leave.''

Open: 18:00-20:30; 1,000 yen; Tel: 075-744-2409; Access: From Keihan ''Demachiyanagi'' take Kyoto Bus #16, 17, get off at Ohara; A 10-min. walk from the bus stop; to get back to Kyoto City, the final bus departs at around 21:42 bound for Demachiyanagi and Shijo Kawaramachi

Other light-up temples: Shoren-in Temple (Until May 6), Kodai-ji Temple (Until May 6) and Entoku-in Temple (Until May 6)

Pick Up Events2

Outdoor Riverside Dining
A delightful Kyoto early summer experience

Kyoto summers are said to be the hottest and most humid in all of Japan. This has a lot to do with the fact that the city is surrounded on three sides by mountains, which makes it hard for the humidity to escape. In some locations in the city where rivers flow, eateries, bars and cafes are set up on large wooden platforms. These wooden platforms are called yuka or kawadoko depending on the area. If you're in Kyoto this month, don't miss this often exotic and always relaxing experience.

Noryo Yuka by Kamo River

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The most famous riverside outdoor dining is Noryo Yuka along the Kamo River. Yuka extend east (facing the Kamo River) from many downtown restaurants and make for an unforgettable location for a relaxing, enjoying a fine dinner or even just for dessert or drinks. These open-air dining areas are unique to Kyoto and, though they have a reputation for being very expensive, but diners will be pleasantly surprised at how reasonable the prices can be. The serendipitous effect of the beautiful views over the river and the eastern skyline make the excellent food and drink in the lively open setting, taste even better. Today, there are about 100 yuka set up along the downtown area of the river. Each of Kyoto's active yuka restaurants serves a slightly different form of cuisine. Most specialize in traditional Kyoto cuisine, some serve ethic food, and others Western fare.

Kawadoko in Kibune

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Kibune is a mountain village nestled in a steep valley north of Kyoto that has long been used as a summer retreat for the residents of Kyoto. In summer, the area is known for its unique kawadoko restaurants where traditional Japanese tatami rooms have been built above the Kibune River. Wooden platforms are built just slightly above the riverbed so that diners can enjoy the pleasant sounds of the stream flowing below them while savoring an exquisite kaiseki course meal. The waters that flow from the source of the Kibune River are very pure and cold. In this natural setting at Kibune, the atmosphere is very special and Kyoto cuisine is a true delight. A joyful train ride into the misty mountain area and pleasant walk in the forest to this restaurant area is yet another attraction. Access to the Kibune area: Take Eizan Railway from Demachiyanagi Stn. and get off at Kibune-guchi Stn.. It takes about 30 min. on foot to the kawadoko restaurant area (nice summer walk!) or take a local bus.

Until May 6
Okazaki Fresh Greenery Viewing Boat Ride

This traditional water tour, on one of two small boats, will take visitors along a canal route that is famous for cherry blossom viewing; These special tour boats depart from the Nanzen-ji Temple boat park (in front of Biwako Sosui Memorial Museum); 29 boat tours each day, between 9:30 and 16:30 (boat departs every 15-30 min.).

Tickets: 1,000 yen; Access: Subway Tozai Line, Keage Stn.; Tel: 075-321-7696; kyoto-tabi.or.jp/jikkokufune.html

Every Day
Sagano Romantic Train Ride

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The Sagano Sightseeing Tram 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).

Tickets: 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 9:00-15:30 (the last boat departs at 15:30). *Operated irregularly on Sat., Sun., National holidays.

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/

May 1-4
Senbon Enma-do Nenbutsu Kyogen at Senbon Enma-do Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This is one of the three greatest nenbutsu kyogen performances in Kyoto; Kyogen is a traditional comic play which was originally started as a method of prevailing Buddhist to the public; No entry fee; May 1st & 2nd from 19:00; May 3rd & 4th from 13:00, and from 18:00.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Senbon Kuramaguchi; Tel: 075-462-3332; yenmado.blogspot.jp/

May 1-5
Spring Antique Book Fair at Miyako Messe

This is 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 from Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Okayama; 10:00-16:45 (until 16:00 on the last day).

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Okazaki Koen/Bijutsukan, Heian Jingu-mae; Kyoto Antique Book Association: Tel: 075-231-2971; www1.kcn.ne.jp/~kosho/koshoken/

May 1-5
Fujinomori Festival at Fujinomori Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

On the 5th, several traditional events will be held (including a procession featuring traditional costumes); Kake Uma Shinji, held from 13:00 and 15:00, is a great display of acrobatic horse riding techniques that were used in traditional battles.

No entry fee; Access: JR Nara Line, Fujinomori Stn.; Tel: 075-641-1045; www.fujinomorijinjya.or.jp/

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.

Tickets: 4,800 yen (special seats with tea service), 4,200 yen (special seats), 2,300 yen (general seats); Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Kawaramachi Sanjo; Pontocho Kabu-kai: Tel:075-221-2025; www1.odn.ne.jp/~adw58490/

May 3
Inari Festival at Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine

The shrine's mikoshi portable shrine is carried from the otabisho near Nishikujo back to the Fushimi Inari Grand Shrine; The procession proceeds along various routes including Omiya, Gojo and Takeda-kaido streets; The Kanko-sai Festival will be held from 16:00, after the mikoshi and procession arrive at the shrine.

No entry fee; Access: JR Inari Stn. or Keihan Fushimi Inari Stn.; Tel: 075-641-7331; inari.jp

May 3
Uesaku Festival at Kurama Temple

On the night of the full moon in May, many Buddhist priests and members of the viewing crowd will pray to the deity for world peace (from 19:00); A number of open-air fires in the precinct create a luminous scene; This festival has been held for many centuries and is similar to certain Himalayan festivals and other special festivals held southeast Asian Buddhist countries.

No entry fee (only on the day of Uesaku Festival); Access: Eizan Railways, Kurama Stn.; Tel: 075-741-2003.

May 3-5
Citizen Tea Party at Nijo Castle

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

Tickets: 2,000 yen (entry to the castle and tea ceremony); 10:00-15:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Nijojo-mae or subway Nijojo-mae Stn.; Tel: 075-841-0096; www.city.kyoto.jp/bunshi/nijojo/

May 8
Yamakage Shrine Annual Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Situated in the precinct of Yoshida Shrine, the unusual festival is held to thank the ancestral god of cooking, eating and drinking. The ceremony is very unique that raw fish is cut using only knives and chopsticks (without being directly touched by hand) can be seen.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kyo-dai Seimon-mae; Tel: 075-771-3788 (Yoshida Shrine)

Until May 10
Ohara-me Festival in the Ohara Area

The Ohara-me Festival is held every year in the village of Ohara, a little northeast of Kyoto; The village is intimately connected to classical Japanese history and literature; Ohara-me costume experience (reservations required; kimono dressing; 1,000 yen; 10:00-14:00).

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto Bus #17, 18, get off at Ohara; Ohara Hosho-kai: Tel: 075-744-2148; kyoto-ohara-kankouhosyoukai.net/

May 17
Kanko Festival at Matsuno-o Grand Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The shrine halls, mikoshi portable shrines and costumes of the shrine priests and other participants will be decorated with aoi (hollyhock) leaves so that this festival is also called ''Aoi Festival in Matsuo''; The 6 mikoshi are carried out from the nearby shrine hall at 12:00 and the procession goes to the main shrine hall (around 18:00).

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Matsuo Taisha-mae; Tel: 075-871-5016; www.matsunoo.or.jp/

May 17 & 24
Saga Festival at Nonomiya Shrine & Atago Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

On the 17th, mikoshi portable shrines are lined up in the precinct of Seiryo-ji Temple; On the 24th, the mikoshi floats, and a child procession parade through the neighborhood; Departure from the Otabisho (10:00) - Daikaku-ji Temple (12:00) - Arashiyama (14:30) - Otabisho (17:00).

No entry fee; Access to the Otabisho: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Saga Shakado-mae; Tel: 090-6240-7000 (Saga Festival Association); www.nonomiya.com/

Until May 31
Machiya Visit at Tondaya

Tondaya is an exquisite cultural facility where people can learn about and enjoy Kyoto traditional lifestyle forms; May 5th is boy's day, the traditional day to celebrate boy's healthy growth; At Tondaya, traditional samurai dolls for the festival will be displayed in their large historical machiya house.

Entry: 8,000 yen (machiya visit and instruction, special meal included; tax not included); Reservations required (2 people minimum); 11:00-13:00; many other plans available; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi/Seimei Jinja-mae; Tel: 075-432-6701; www.tondaya.co.jp/

June 1 & 2
Takigi Noh Night-time Performance at Heian Shrine

Kyoto's Takigi Noh theatre performances are one of the city's most popular events; On both days, three major Noh schools (Kanze, Kongo, Okura) will perform these slow-moving, mysterious plays on a special fire-lit, outdoor stage set up in Heian Shrine.

Tickets: 4,000 yen; From 17:30 (the gates open from 16:30); The event will be postponed in the case of rain; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Okazaki Koen/Bijutsukan, Heian Jingu-mae; Tel: 075-771-6114 (Kyoto Takigi Noh Office).

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets

May 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.

May 6
Kyoto City Hall

A big public flea market; 10:00-17:00; In case of rain, it will be postponed to May 16.

May 8, 18, 28
Toyokuni Shrine

A very small market of local products; 10:00-15:00.

May 10
Bishamon-do in Kennin-ji Temple

Known as Tora-ichi, this market specializes in handicrafts & arts; 10:00-16:00.

May 15
Chion-ji Temple

Kyoto's biggest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade things 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 24
Kamigamo Shrine

Handicrafts, arts, food, and more; 9:00-16:00.

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.

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