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

August's Top-picked Events

Kyo-no Tanabata
Elegant & Romantic Summer Star Festival
Aug. 1-15 (depending on the venue)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Tanabata, often known as the Star Festival, celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on July 7th.

The date of Tanabata varies by region, but the celebration is held on various days between July and August. In Kyoto, many events will be held in some venues (along Horikawa Street, Kamo River, Nijo Castle, etc.) during the first two weeks of August. Enjoy the breeze, illuminations and scents under the summer sky.


Ukai Cormorant Fishing in Arashiyama and Uji

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Ukai in Kyoto is one of the must-not-miss summer tourist attractions in Arashiyama and Uji. Cormorants (large diving birds) are used to catch sweet river fish, or ayu on the Oi and Uji rivers.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Tourists can watch the events from either the banks of the river or get a seat on a boat which will let them watch the performance up close. The good times for fishing are moonless nights when the fish are easily attracted to the fire torch lighting on the boat. There are now two women usho (trainer of cormorant) in Uji. *Might be cancelled in the case of bad weather.

Arashiyama (Until Sept. 23): Adults: 1,800 yen, Children (4-12 years old): 900 yen; 19:00-21:00; Boat ride: 19:00 & 20:00; Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0302 (Arashiyama Tsusen); Uji (until Sept. 30): Adults: 2,000 yen, Children (6-12 years old): 1,000 yen; 19:00-20:00 (Reception from 18:00; Boarding from 18:30); Boarding area: Nakanoshima Park; Access: Keihan Line, transfer at Chushojima Stn. to Uji Stn.; Tel: 0774-23-3334 (Uji City Tourist Association).

Gozan-no Okuribi

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Gozan-no Okuribi is the most representative of the Obon (an annual Buddhist event for commemorating ancestors, held during Aug. 13-16) observations in Kyoto and is held on August 16th. Though the origin of the event is not clearly known, it was an important public summer rite of the common people. The fires are used as a way of guiding the spirits of the dead back to the Buddhist Pure Land (Western Paradise), welcomed earlier at the beginning of the Obon period.

Starting at 20:00, huge bonfires, each in the shape of a different character or symbol, are lit on the five mountain surrounding the city: Dai, Myo, Ho, Funagata (ship), Torii-gata (shrine gate). The most popular place to view the event is from the west side of the Kamo River (north of Marutamachi); www.kyokanko.or.jp/okuribi

Gozan Okuri-bi Viewing at Sweet MARRON CAFFE (Kotani Kanamono)
On August 16th, guests who drink or dine at the Sweet Marron Caffe will receive a ticket for a special private Daimonji viewing (Myo and Ho characters not visible) from their rooftop (the party starts at 19:00); The ticket will be distributed from 8:30 on the 16th (first-come, first-served).

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 Aug. 15
Tanabata Star Festival Bamboo Decoration & Light-up

At Kifune Shrine; The shrine precinct will be elegantly lit up; People pray for their wishes to come true by writing them down on colorful strips of paper to hang on the tanabata bamboo.

Sunset till 20:00 ; Kyoto City Bus #17, get off at Demachiyanagiekimae and take Eizan Railway to Kibune-guchi Stn.; kifunejinja.jp

Until Aug. 31
Beer Garden with Maiko and Geiko

At Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theatre; A special summertime beer garden, where people can enjoy beer and dining while watching elegant maiko and geiko dances on stage.

18:00-19:30 (7,000 yen/person for food + all-youcan-drink); 20:00-21:30 (5,000 yen/person for hors d'oeuvre + all you-can-drink); Closed: July 29 & Aug. 15-16; Reservation only (Tel: 075-561-1151: reception 10:00-16:00; Japanese only); Kyoto City Bus #207, get off at Shijo Keihanmae; www.miyagawacho.jp

Aug. 1-18
Special Night-time Opening of Kodai-ji Temple

Every summer, the temple holds a special night-time opening as a memorial service for Hideyoshi; Special Tea Ceremony wearing Yukata event will be held on the night of Aug. 3, 4, 5, & 10, 11, 12, & 17, 18 (a formal tea ceremony; 3,000 yen or 2,500 yen for people dressed in yukata; Reservation required by 16:00 of the previous day; reception from 17:00-18:00).

Evening entry: 600 yen (including entry to the Sho Museum); Sunset-21:30; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; www.kodaiji.com

Aug. 1-15
Kyo-no Tanabata Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A wishing festival in tribute to July 7th on the lunar calendar, it will take place at some venues such as along the Horikawa River and the Kamo River; Various events will create a fantastic atmosphere during the celebration.

Lit-up time: 19:00-21:30; Kamogawa Venue: Keihan Line, get off at Gion Shijo Stn., Horikawa Venue: Subway Tozai Line, get off at Nijojo-mae Stn.; www.kyoto-tanabata.jp

Aug. 4-16
Mitarashi & Tanabata Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; People put their feet in the cool waters of the stream running through the shrine and pray for a healthy life; Participants are able to walk through ''Stone Room'' which is a sacred place connecting the deities and people on this special occasion.

Entry: 300 yen with candle; 9:00-20:00; (Entry to the Stone Room: 1,000 yen; Aug. 10-12; from 16:00); Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangumae; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Aug. 4 & 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; 4th: at Sakura Urushitei; Email: kyototourlounge@kyotoinnandtour.com ; 25th at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyoto-ryokan-sakura.com

Aug. 4, 5 & 11-16 & 18, 19
Summer Night Time Special Opening

At Toei Kyoto Studio Park; From 17:00, this amusement park's film & TV set will be lit up at night, and many stalls will be lined up especially for families and couples to have great summer fun!; A scary haunted house, ninja training hall and popular amusement attractions are all waiting for you too!

1,300 yen (Adults); 900 yen (13-18); 700 yen (3-12); 17:00-21:00; JR Sagano Line, Uzumasa Stn. or Subway Tozai Line, Uzumasa Tenjingawa Stn.; www.toei-eigamura.com

Aug. 4, 5, 7 & 11-16 & 18, 19 & 25, 26
Night Time Special Lit-up Garden

At the Garden Museum Hiei; Blooming with 100,000 blossoms every year, the Garden Museum is based on the theme of French impressionism and is beautifully lit-up throughout the summer months; Located at the summit of Mt. Hiei, it offers an incredible view of both Lake Biwa and the City of Kyoto.

1,200 yen (adults); 600 yen (6-12); 10:00-20:30 (enter by 20:00); 10:00-17:30 on other days (enter by 17:00); Keihan Bus from Kyoto Stn. to Hiei Sancho Stn.; www.garden-museum-hiei.co.jp

Aug. 6
Summer Purification Ritual

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Shimogamo Shrine; From around 19:00, local men will compete to get a sacred arrow in the shrine's Mitarashi pond; It is said that the arrow can ward off evil and secure good health in the latter half of the year.

Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-Jinja-mae; www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp

Aug. 7-10
Gojo-zaka Pottery Festival

© The Gojo-zaka Pottery Festival

This Pottery festival was started in the early Taisho period (1912-1926) and is now one of the biggest pottery festivals in Japan, with about 400,000 visitors each year; About 400 stalls selling pottery will line both sides of Gojo Street between Higashioji and Gojo bridge.

9:00-22:00; Kyoto City Bus #100, #206, #207, get off at Gojozaka or Keihan Railway, Kiyomizu Gojo Stn.; www.toukimaturi.gr.jp

Aug. 9-22
Rokusai Nenbutsu Buddhist Dances

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The Rokusai Nenbutsu dance was developed by the Buddhist saint, Kuya in the Heian period (794-1185), to spread the salvation of Buddhism among the people through chanting and dancing; The dance is performed at many temples during Obon (Festival of the Dead) as a form of prayer for ancestral spirits.

Aug. 9 & 16
Mibu Rokusai Nenbutsu

From 20:00 on the 9th, from 20:30 on the 16th; Mibu Temple; Aug. 14: Senbon Rokusai Nenbutsu: From 19:00; Senbon Enma-do Temple; Aug. 18, 20, 22: Koyamago Rokusai Nenbutsu Buddhist Dances: Koyamago dances are held at 3 temples each day; on the 18th at Kamigoryo Shrine from around 20:30; the 20th at Kofuku-ji Temple from around 20:00; and on the 22nd at Jozen-ji Temple from around 19:30.

Aug. 11-16
Antique Book Fair

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Shimogamo Shrine; Many book dealers from Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Okayama will be selling more than 800,000 books: rare ones, old ones, foreign and more.

10:00-17:30 (until 16:00 on the last day); Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo Jinja-mae; www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp

Aug. 14-16
Yoi Mairi Night-time Opening

At Kiyomizu Temple; The temple holds a special night-time opening where the public can have access to its main statue; Special ceremony will be held from 14th-16th, at 11:00 & 20:00.

400 yen; 18:30-21:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; kiyomizudera.or.jp

Aug. 16
Buddhist Paper Lantern Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Arashiyama & Hirosawa Pond; From 19:00 to 21:00, countless colored paper lanterns, each with a burning candle, will be released on the Oi River from Togetsu-kyo Bridge; The paper lantern festival will also be held at the Hirosawa Pond (about 15 min. walk from JR Sagano Line, Saga Arashiyama Stn.);

Both of these locations are also excellent for viewing the Torii-gata hillside sendoff fire; Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen

August 19 & 26
Dance Performance by Maiko & Geiko

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

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

Aug. 23 & 24
Sento Memorial Service

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple; From 17:30 to 20:30, hundreds of lanterns are lit around the roughly 8,000 stone monuments and statues in this temple precinct, which in ancient times was the site of a large graveyard.

1,000 yen; Kyoto Bus #72, get off at Toriimoto; www.nenbutsuji.jp

Aug. 26
Emperor Saga Festival

At Umenomiya Taisha Shrine; To commemorate the many works that were achieved by Emperor Saga, many traditional events will be held at this shrine; Sumo wrestling by boys from 9:30, mini-music concert performed by local schools (from 16:00) and the festival highlight of the Rokusai Nenbutsu dance (from 19:00) will be performed.

550 yen to enter the shrine; Ceremony starts from 8:30; Kyoto City Bus #3, 28, 29, 71, get off at Umenomiya Jingu-mae; www.umenomiya.or.jp

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Aug. 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.

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

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

Aug. 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.

Aug. 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.

Aug. 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.

Aug. 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.