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March 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

Hina Matsuri
Praying for Girls' Healthy Growth

Hina Matsuri, or Doll Festival, is the one of the traditional Japanese celebrations for children held on March 3rd. This is the day to pray for young girls' growth and happiness. It is also called ''Momo no Sekku (Season of Peach)'' because it is peach blossom season in the old lunar calendar.

Many families with girls display hina ningyo, a special doll set for Hina Matsuri and dedicate peach blossoms to them. A large set of the dolls is usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor (Odairisama) and Empress (Ohina-sama). The next step contains three court ladies (Sannin kanjo), followed by five musicians (Gonin bayashi), two ministers (Udaijin and Sadaijin), and three servants ending the bottom row in a five-tiered display. There are also small pieces of furniture, small meal dishes, and other interesting articles.

The custom of displaying dolls began during the Heian period (794-1185). Formerly, people believed the dolls possessed the power to contain bad spirits. Hina matsuri traces its origins to an ancient Japanese custom called hina nagashi, in which straw hina dolls were set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles or bad spirits with them. Shimogamo Shrine celebrates the Nagashibina (hina nagashi) by floating these dolls in the nearby stream within the precinct to pray for the safety of children.

Recommended Hina Matsuri Events in Kyoto

Mar. 3
Hina Matsuri Festival at Ichihime Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

On this day people visit this shrine dressed up in Heian period costumes and arrange themselves like the dolls in a traditional tiered hina ningyo doll set; A dance performance, juni hitoe (12 layer kimono) dressing demonstration, and tea service will also be featured (13:00-16:00)

Entry: 1,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #17, 205, get off at Kawaramachi Shomen; Tel: 075-361-2775; ichihime.net; *Please note that some areas are off-limits in the precinct.

Mar. 3
Nagashi Bina at Shimogamo Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

From 10:00, after a special ceremony, people release small hina dolls made of straw in a stream in the shrine precinct to pray for the health of all girls.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-jinja-mae; Tel: 075-761-3460 (Kyoto Doll Association); www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/

Pick Up Events2

Enjoy the beautiful lit-up scenes featuring a spring of marvelous scents
Spring Special Nighttime Opening

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

Mar. 6-15 & Mar. 28-Apr. 12
Kiyomizu Temple

This amazing temple is probably Kyoto's most popular and wellknown sightseeing spot. From the temple's large wooden stage and some of its other excellent hillside locations visitors can gain excellent night views of the city. Also about 1,000 cherry blossom trees can be seen, this beautiful scenery has been loved by people since the Muromachi period.

Entry: 400 yen; 18:30-21:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizumichi; Tel: 075-551-1234; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/

Mar. 6-15 & late April-early May
Shoren-in Temple

This is one of Kyoto's popular Imperial temples with an especially strong connection to the imperial family. The famous stroll round garden with a pond, and another garden named Kirishima made by Enshu Kobori will come looming out of the darkness.

Entry: 800 yen; 18:00-21:30; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Jingumichi; Tel: 075-561-2345; www.shorenin.com/

Mar. 6-May 6
Kodai-ji Temple

This temple was founded by Nene, wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (one of Japan's most famous warlords in the 16th century). The temple's large pond garden, tea ceremony rooms and buildings are surrounded by a bamboo forest creating an especially elegant atmosphere when lit up at night.

Entry: 600 yen; sunset- 21:30; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyamayasui; Tel: 075-561-9966; www.kodaiji.com/

Mar. 6-May 6
Entoku-in Temple

This temple was where Nene lived out the end of her life. One part of the garden is a national scenic beauty spot. The temple has gorgeous sliding door paintings created by famous modern Japanese artists.

Entry: 500 yen; sunset-21:30; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyamayasui; Tel: 075-525-0101; www.kodaiji.com/entoku-in/idx.shtml

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

From Mar. 1
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).

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/

Until Mar. 21
Weeping Plum Blossoms and Camellia Festival at Jonan-gu Shrine

In the shrine's vast Rakusui-en garden, more than 150 weeping plum trees create a beautiful contrast of red and white; Also 300 camellia trees will be in bloom in Feb. and Mar..

Entry: 600 yen; Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; Tel: 075-623-0846; www.jonangu.com/

Until April 3
Machiya Hina Matsuri Festival at Tondaya

Tondaya is an exquisite cultural facility where people can learn about and enjoy Kyoto traditional lifestyle forms. About 100 hina matsuri dolls will be displayed and participants will enjoy a fine classic meal.

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

Mar. 1-31
Nehan-e at Shinnyo-do Temple

February 15th (in the lunar calendar) is the day on which the historical Buddha passed away; A large and colorful Buddhist painting called Nehan-zu in which the scene of Buddha's passage into Nirvana will be displayed; There are 127 different kinds of creatures in the painting in total and no other Nehan-zu in Japan shows so many.

Entry: 600 yen; 9:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Shinnyodo-mae; Tel: 075-771-0915; shin-nyo-do.jp/

Mar. 1-April 3
Doll Exhibition at Hokyo-ji Temple

The girl's celebration, Hina Matsuri Ceremony will be held from 11:00-11:30 on the 1st (reservation required); during the exhibition period, many kinds of Japanese dolls in the collection from small size to life sized dolls will be displayed in a traditional atmosphere.

Entry: 600 yen; 10:00-16:00 (entry until 15:30; from 12:00 on Mar. 1st); Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Horikawa Teranouchi; Tel: 075-451-1550; www.hokyoji.net/

Mar. 3
Shunto-e at Sanjusangen-do Temple

The master of flower arrangement of the Ikenobo School visits the temple and offers flowers to the deity; Women will receive a special peach amulet from the temple.

No entry fee; 9:00-15:30; Access: Kyoto City Bus #100, 206, 208, get off at Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae; Tel: 075-561-0467; sanjusangendo.jp/

Mar. 9
Amagoi Festival at Kifune Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

After offering sacred water and food to the deity (at 10:00), a Shinto priest will purify the shrine grounds with sacred water; The God of Rain is worshiped and people pray for a good autumn harvest.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #17, get off at Demachiyanagi-eki-mae and take Eizan Railways to Kibune-guchi Stn. (then walk for 30 min. to the shrine); Tel: 075-741-2016; kifunejinja.jp/

From Mar. 10
Hozugawa Kudari River Run

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/

Mar. 10
Geino Jotatsu Kigan Festival at Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The special ceremony for this event starts from 13:00; A kyogen theatre performance by the Shigeyama Chuzaburo Family will also be held on this day; The deity of this shrine is the God of Arts and many people visit the temple to pray for the improvement of their art and performance skills.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0069; www2.ocn.ne.jp/~horinji/

Mar. 14 & 15, April 3
Seiryu-e at Kiyomizu Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The grand parade for this colorful event starts from 14:00; A large blue dragon, the symbol of this temple (and the guardian of the east side of Kyoto), is paraded through the temple area accompanied by many people in traditional clothing.

Entry: 300 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-551- 1234; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/

Mar. 15
Nehan-e & Otaimatsu Fire Ritual at Seiryoji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At the Nehan-e ceremony (a memorial ceremony for Buddha's nirvana; from 18:30), you can see an otaimatsu torch lighting ritual, held from around 20:30 which is said to reproduce the scene of when Buddha passed away; Their Saga Shaka Dai Nenbutsu (sutra chanting) is one of Kyoto's three largest religious performances held 3 times on this day (15:30/17:00/18:30).

No entry fee (only on the day of Nehan-e ceremony day); 9:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto Bus #71, 72, get off at Saga Shakado-mae; Tel: 075-861-0343.

Mar. 17
Kokei-ki at Daisen-in Temple in Daitoku-ji Temple

This ceremony (9:30-15:30) is a memorial event for the monk Kokei who was a close friend of Sen no Rikyu, the founder of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony; A matcha green tea service will also be available on this day.

Tickets: 1,400 yen (with matcha green tea); Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Daitokuji-mae; Tel: 075-491-8346; www.b-model.net/daisen-in/

Mar. 25-April 7
Kitano Odori at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre

The Kitano Odori is an annual dance performance by maiko and geiko of the Kamishichiken district. This annual event officially begun jointly in 1952 in commemoration of the 1,050th anniversary of Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine.

Tickets: 4,800 yen with matcha green tea, 4,300 yen without tea; From 13:30 & 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; Tel: 075-461-0148; www.maiko3.com/

Mar. 27-29
Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza

This is the largest antique market in western Japan; More than 350 antique dealers will gather from all over Japan offering over 1.5 million Japanese and western antique goods. 10:00-17:00 (until 16:00 on the last day).

Access: Take Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Takeda Stn. and get off at Pulse Plazamae; Tel: 077-522-2307 (Gomokudo); Free shuttle bus service available from Takeda Stn..

Mar. 29
Hanezu Odori Dance and Plum Blossom Viewing at Zuishin-in Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This temple is famous for its plum garden and is open to the public at this time of the year; Children in faint pink traditional costumes sing and dance in this celebrated annual performance of the Hanezu Odori.

Entry: 1,000 yen; Dance from 11:00 (3-4 performances will be held between 11:00 and 16:30); Access: Subway Tozai line, Ono Stn.; Tel: 075-571-0025; www.zuishinin.or.jp/

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets

Mar. 1
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.

Mar. 8
Kyoto City Hall

A big public flea market; 10:00-17:00; In case of rain, it will be postponed to Mar. 14 from Mar. 8.

Mar. 8
Toyokuni Shrine

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

Mar. 15
Chion-ji Temple

Kyoto’s biggest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade things and incredible prices too!; 8:00-16:00.

Mar. 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.

Mar. 22
Kamigamo Shrine

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

Mar. 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.