Home > Kyoto This Month > Dec. - Jan. Event Highlights

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

December's Top-picked Events

Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro 2019
December 13-22, 17:00-20:30 (rain-or-shine)

Arashiyama Hanatouro is staged every December in the scenic Saga Arashiyama district. An approx. 5-km path connecting historical sites and attractions will be lined with a number of lanterns made using Kyoto craft techniques and materials. Along the route, visitors will also find huge ikebana flower arrangement displays.

During the event period, night time special opening/light-ups will be held at various surrounding temples & shrines. www.hanatouro.jp/e

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; During cold months (until Mar. 9), the boat will be covered by plastic cover and be heated inside; Boats depart at 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 14:30.

*No operation during end & beginning of the year; 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

Nov. 30- Dec. 26
Kaomise Kabuki Performances

At Minamiza Theatre: December is a kabuki month in Kyoto; Kaomise, which brings together the top kabuki stars, will catch your eye and have you marveling at the ornate costumes.

Tickets: 6,000 yen -27,000 yen; From 10:30 and 16:45; Kyoto City Bus #201, 203, get off atShijo Keihan-mae; www.shochiku.co.jp/play/minamiza/

Dec. 1
Kencha Festival

At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; The origin of this ritual dates back to 1587 when the warlord Hideyoshi Toyotomi held a big tea party at the shrine; The ceremony starts from 10:00.

5,000 yen; Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Dec. 1
Shimai Daikoku Festival

At Jishu Shrine (in Kiyomizu Temple); The ceremony starts from 14:00; Prayers are offered to the deity and people pray for a healthy life for the next year.

400 yen to enter Kiyomizu Temple; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizumichi; www.jishujinja.or.jp

Dec. 7 & 8
Daikon Radish Ceremony

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Senbon Shaka-do Temple; Celebrating the day on which Buddha achieved enlightenment; Eating radish (daikon) is believed to dispel misfortune; The Seido-kai memorial service is held on Dec. 8, from 10:00.

Cooked white radish offerings: 10:00-16:00 on both days for 1,000 yen; Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; www.daihoonji.com

Dec. 7, 14, 21 & Jan. 11 & 25
Sake Tasting Night at Kyomachiya Ryokan/Sakura Urushitei/Hongan-G

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; Dec.7th, 21st, Jan. 11th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; Dec. 14 & Jan. 25 at Sakura Hongan-G; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Dec. 8
Needles Ceremony

At Kokuzo Horinji Temple; The temple has long been worshipped for centuries by those who wish to improve their hand sewing and entertainment performance skills; A special service to express one's gratitude for used needles is held: 13:00-14:00; A traditional Japanese dance performance & sweet sake offering, too.

Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; www.kokuzohourinji.com

Dec. 12
Announcement of This Year's Kanji Character

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kiyomizu Temple; The chief priest writes the ''Kanji that symbolizes the year'' on a large sheet of paper on the stage in front of a huge crowd, purifying this year’s sins so as to welcome an auspicious new year.

400 yen; From 14:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp

Dec. 13
Koto Hajime Year End Greetings

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In Gion; From around 10:00, geiko and maiko in each Kagai (maiko & geiko districts) set out to visit their teachers and others to thank them for their support; They bring kagami-mochi, a special New Year's rice cake to their teachers.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion.

Dec. 13 & 14
The Kyoto Cuisine Exhibition

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At the Miyako Messe; A number of Kyoto's top Japanese restaurants display their best dishes, their cooking skills and the beautiful appearance of their dish arrangements; A performance of the Shiki Bocho, a Japanese cooking knife ceremony and a tea ceremony performance; Dining areas are also a fun part of this event.

800 yen; 10:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #5, 100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae; www.kyo-ryori.com

Dec. 13-31
Kakure Nenbutsu Buddhist Sutra Chanting

At Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple; When Kyoto was struck by a serious plague in 951, the Buddhist monk Kuya held a dancing and sutra chanting ritual to stop the plague; Nenbutsu Odori will be performed from around 16:00 (not opened to the public on the 31st).

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

From Dec. 13
Ofuku Ume Plum Service

At Kitano Tenmangu Shrine; People drink a special tea on the morning of New Year's Day to ensure a healthy new year; Ofuku Ume Plums for this special tea will be available (700 yen) until the stock runs out.

Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Dec. 20
Susuharai Temple Cleaning

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Higashi & Nishi Hongan-ji Temple; Buddhist priests and other citizens from all over Japan journey to these two important temples on this day to participate in the year-end cleaning.

Nishi Hongan-ji Temple: From 7:00, Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Nishi Honganji-mae; Higashi Hongan-ji Temple: From 9:00; A 7-min. walk from JR Kyoto Stn.

Dec. 23
Kabocha Pumpkin Ceremony

At Yata Temple; A pumpkin is set in front of the main hall and people come to touch it to ward off illness; Ceremony starts from 10:00; Visitors will receive free cooked pumpkin (limited to the first 1,000 people).

Subway Tozai Line, Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Stn.

Dec. 25
Ominugui Buddhist Statue Cleaning

At Chion-in Temple; Ominugui, Buddhist statue cleaning, starts from 13:00; The wooden statue of the Buddhist saint, Honen, will be cleaned by monks with fine cotton cloths to ward off misfortune.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Chionin-mae; www.chion-in.or.jp

Dec. 26-Jan. 3
Nijo Castle Special Opening

At Nijo Castle; Elegant Edo-period garden of Nijo Castle will be opened through end to the beginning of the year; Welcome the New Year in at the superb Japanese garden; Closed Dec. 29-31.

620 yen; 8:45-17:00 (last entry 16:00); Kyoto City Bus #50, 101, get off at Nijojo-mae or Subway Tozai Line Nijojo-mae; nijo-jocastle.city.kyoto.lg.jp

Dec. 31
Joya-no Kane New Year's Eve Bell

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At various temples in the city; Most of the Buddhist temples hold special temple bell ringing on New Year's Eve, just before the New Year begins; The bell is rung a total of 108 times, the number of worldly desires; Many temples let visitors ring the bell (popular places will be extremely crowded and advance sign-up is needed).

Dec. 31-Jan. 1
Okera Mairi Shrine Visit

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Yasaka Shrine; People light okera-bi, a thin straw rope, and bring it back home to light the first fire of the New Year; Ohara-e purification ritual starts at 15:00 and the Joya New Year's Eve Festival at 19:00.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Jan. 1-3
Obuku-cha New Year's Tea Service

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Rokuhara Mitsuji Temple; A cup of green tea made with pure water drawn on New Year's Day will be served to visitors; It is believed that drinking this tea at the beginning of the year can prevent illness throughout the year.

300 yen for Obuku-cha tea; 9:00-17:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; rokuhara.or.jp

Jan. 2-4
New Year Calligraphy

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; The deity of Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine is Michizane Sugawara, an important court officer as well as a gifted poet and calligrapher in the Heian period (794-1185); People try the first calligraphy of the year (10:00-16:00); From 13:00 on the 3rd, kyogen comic theatre will be performed.

Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Jan. 3
Karuta Hajime

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Yasaka Shrine; At 13:00, fourteen women dressed in Heian period court costumes play karuta (a traditional Japanese card game introduced by the Portuguese in the 16th century).

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Jan. 4
Kemari Hajime

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Shimogamo Shrine; Kemari, a kind of football game dating from the Heian period (794-1185), is played here by men in court costumes starting at 13:30.

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

Jan. 7
New Year's White Horse Ritual

At Kamigamo Shrine; White horses have long been a sacred symbol in Shinto; Seeing a white horse at the beginning of the year is believed to ward off bad fortunes; Special porridge will be offered to the deity as well as a sacred white horse will be led in front of the deity at noon, 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00.

Ceremony starts from 10:00; Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Kamigamo Misonobashi; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Jan. 8-14
Winter Alms Collecting

At Shogo-in Temple and in the city; Yamabushi (mountain monks) depart for their annual alms collecting (at 13:00 on the 8th) and walk around the city blowing conch shell horns and chanting the heart sutra; Making donation to the monks is believed to give blessings.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae; www.shogoin.or.jp

Jan. 9
Ebisu Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Yasaka Shrine: From 15:00 on the 9th, a boat carrying Shichifukujin, the seven gods of good fortune, will be paraded between Shijo Karasuma and Yasaka Shrine; An auspicious bamboo decoration will be presented to visitors on both days.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Jan. 10-12
Gafu Bonsai Exhibition

At the Miyako Messe; Over 1,200 bonsai dwarf trees will be exhibited; These special trees have been carefully cultivated by famous bonsai specialists.

800 yen; 9:30-16:30 (until 16:00 on the last day); Kyoto City Bus #5, #100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae; www.miyakomesse.jp

Jan. 12
New Year Japanese Archery Competition

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Sanjusangen-do Temple; It's an interesting challenge to shoot an arrow from one end of the building to the other at it's 120 meters long; Since the event takes place on the day before Coming of Age Day, many of the contestants are 20 years old dressed in colorful kimono.

Admission free (generally 600 yen); 9:00-15:30; Kyoto City Bus #100, 206, get off at Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae; sanjusangendo.jp

Jan. 13
Seijin-no-hi Coming-of-Age Day

At various sites throughout Kyoto; On this day, young men and women who have reached 20-years old celebrate their coming of age; Young women dressed in gorgeous kimono can be seen all over the city, but Heian Shrine and Yasaka Shrine in the Gion area are the best places to view this colorful event in dramatic Japanese surroundings.

Jan. 15-31
Azuki-gayu Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Torin-in Temple in Myoshin-ji Temple Complex; Kyoto people believe that eating red bean rice porridge (azuki-gayu) at the beginning of the year will prevent illness.

3,800 yen (plum tea, azuki-gayu, shojin vegetarian cuisine included; reservations not required); 11:00-15:00; JR Sagano Line, Hanazono Stn.; www.myoshinji.or.jp

Jan. 16
Busha Shinji

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kamigamo Shrine; A Japanese archery event will be held from 10:30 to ward off the bad luck of the coming year; There are demons painted on the rear of each target.

Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Kamigamo Misonobashi; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Jan. 20
Yutate Kagura Ceremony

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Jonan-gu Shrine; A miko, a shrine maiden, holding a bamboo shoot, scatters boiling water from the large iron pot swiftly around to get rid of bad spirits and pray for good health for the new-year.

From 14:00; A 15-min. walk from Subway Karasuma Line or Kintetsu Kyoto Line, Takeda Stn.; www.jonangu.com

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Dec. 1 & Jan. 5
Flea Market at To-ji Temple: 7:00-16:00

Dec. 7
Handicraft Market at Umekoji Park: 9:00-16:00

Dec. & Jan. 8, 18, 28
Handicraft Market at Toyokuni Shrine: 10:00-15:00

Dec. 14 & Jan. 11
Heian Rakuichi Market at Okazaki Park: 10:00-16:00

Dec. & Jan. 15
Handicraft Market at Chion-ji Temple: 8:00-16:00

Dec. & Jan. 21
Kobo-san Flea Market at To-ji Temple: 8:00-16:00

Dec. 22 & Jan. 26
Kamigamo Handcraft Market at Kamigamo Shrine: 9:00-16:00

Dec. & Jan. 25
Tenjin-san Flea Market at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine: 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.