Home > Kyoto This Month > March Event Highlights

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 Event 1

Hina Matsuri
The Season of Peach
Praying for Girls' Healthy Growth

Hina Matsuri, also regarded as a Doll Festival, is one of the traditional Japanese celebrations for children held on March 3. 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 the 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.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A large set of the dolls is usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. 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

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.

Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-jinja-mae; Tel: 075-761-3460 (Kyoto Doll Association); http://www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/

Hina Matsuri Festival at Ichihime Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A dance performance, juni hitoe (12-layer kimono) dressing demonstration, and people wear the Heian-period costumes representing a Hina Ningyo dolls set (from around 15:00).

13:00-16:00; Some events take place at nearby Hito Machi Koryu-kan; Kyoto City Bus #17, 205, get off at Kawaramachi Shomen; Tel: 075-361-2775; ichihime.net

Shunto-e Ceremony at Sanjusangen-do Temple
The master of the Ikenobo flower arrangement school offers flowers to the deity; A special ''peach amulet'' is sold only on this day.

9:00-15:30; Kyoto City Bus #100, 206, 208, get off at Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae; Tel: 075-561-0467; sanjusangendo.jp

Pick Up Event 2

Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro 2018
March 9-18 18:00-21:30 (rain-or-shine)

The Higashiyama area in Kyoto is a tourists' bonanza in all seasons. This event invites you to enjoy a relaxing and romantic stroll. A number of lanterns decorate the 5-km walking path leading to the foothills of Higashiyama Mountain. The abundant ikebana arrangements together with paper lanterns welcome you to an enchanting world.

Hokan-ji Temple (Yasaka Pagoda)

Higashiyama Hanatouro Highlight Events
Ikebana Promenade
With the cooperation of the Kyoto Ikebana Association, large flower arrangements are displayed along the streets.

Art Lantern & Lighting Display by College Students
Artistic lanterns and unique lighting items created by art college students in the Kansai region will adorn the venues.

Dedication Dance by Maiko

Maiko of the five Kagai, Kyoto's traditional entertainment areas, will dance for the dedication at Yasaka Shrine; Mar. 10 & 11, 16-18.

Spring Special Nighttime Opening
During Higashiyama Hanatouro, some temples and shrines in the area will be opened at night. This is a great opportunity to see stunning gardens and building illuminations.

For further information: www.hanatouro.jp/e/index.html
(Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council)

*All photos courtesy of Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

Pick Up Event 2

The Day of Buddha's Nirvana

February 15th (in the lunar calendar) is the day that Buddha passed away. To commemorate this day, temples all around Japan hold the Nehan-e ceremony in March in accordance with today's Gregorian calendar. Many temples in Kyoto publicly display a large and colorful painting, called Nehan-zu, depicting Buddha's passage into Nirvana.

Shinnyo-do Temple (Mar. 1-April 1)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The Shinnyo-do's Nehan-zu is unique as it includes a cat. 600 yen; 9:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Kinrinshako-mae or Shinnyodo-mae; shin-nyo-do.jp

Tofuku-ji Temple (Mar. 14-16)

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This temple's huge Nehan-zu (12 meters by 6.5 meters) was painted by a famous painter in the Muromachi period (1489-1558); 500 yen each for Sanmon gate and Ryugin-an Temple (free of charge to enter the main hall); 9:00-15:30 (until 15:00 on 16th); JR Nara Line, Tofukuji Stn.; www.tofukuji.jp

Sennyu-ji Temple (Mar. 14-16)
The magnificent Nehan-zu (16 meters by 8 meters) was painted by the Buddhist monk, Meiyo, in the mid-Edo period (1603-1868). The Buddha is shown with a very peaceful expression as if he were only asleep; 500 yen; 9:00-16:30; Kyoto City Bus #208, get off at Sennyuji-michi; www.mitera.org

Honpo-ji Temple (Mar. 14-April 15)
Painted by Tohaku Hasegawa (1539-1630), one of Japan's most famous artists. The temple's dry landscape garden, designed by Koetsu Hon'ami (1558-1637), is outstanding; 1,000 yen; 10:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Horikawa Teranouchi; eishouzan.honpouji.nichiren-shu.jp

Until Mar. 11
Toei Kyoto Studio Park Winter Festival

At Toei Kyoto Studio Park; Come and experience all kinds of ninja shows and trainings, including a powerful Ninja Show with 3D projection mapping; Many more fun and exciting amusement attractions.

2,200 yen (adults); 1,300 yen (age 13-18); 1,100 yen (age 3-12); 9:30-16:30 (until 20:00 on Sat., Sun. & national holidays); JR Sagano Line, Uzumasa Stn. or Subway Tozai Line, Uzumasa Tenjingawa Stn.; www.toei-eigamura.com

Until Mar. 11
Early Spring Flowers and Plants Exhibition

At the Kyoto Botanical Garden; An apporoximate 10,000-piece collection of some 200 species of pretty spring flowers are gathered and exhibited at the special stage; Conservatory (additional 200 yen required) and a stylish cafe.

200 yen; 10:00-16:00; Subway Karasuma Line, Kitayama Stn; Tel: 075-701-0141; www.pref.kyoto.jp/en/02-02-10.html

Until Mar. 22
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.

600 yen; 9:00-16:00; 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 May 7

At Kyoto Railway Museum; Collaboration of various fun events with ''Thomas & Friends,'' stamp rally and a special diorama version of ''Island of Sodor'' will be exhibited.

1,200 yen; 10:00-17:30 (enter by 17:00); Closed Wed.; A 20-min. walk to the west from Kyoto Station; www.kyotorailwaymuseum.jp

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 during tourist season).

620 yen (one way); JR Sagano Line Saga Arashiyama Stn.; www.sagano-kanko.co.jp

Mar. 1-31
Nehan-e; At several temples

February 15th (in the lunar calendar) is the day that Buddha passed away; Temples all around Japan hold the Nehan-e ceremony in March in which they publicly display a large and colorful painting, called Nehan-zu, depicting Buddha's passage into Nirvana.

Shinnyo-do Temple (Mar. 1-31): 600 yen; 9:00-16:00; shin-nyo-do.jp ; Tofukui-ji Temple (Mar. 14-16): 500 yen; 9:00-15:30; www.tofukuji.jp ; Sennyu-ji Temple (Mar. 14-16): 500 yen; 9:00-16:30; www.mitera.org

Mar. 1 - April 3
Japanese Doll Exhibition

At Hokyo-ji Temple; A girl's celebration, the Hina Matsuri Ceremony, will be held from 11:00-11:30 on March 1 (reservation required); Many kinds of Japanese dolls in the collection from small sized to life-sized dolls will be displayed.

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

Mar. 2 - May 15
Spring Special Opening ''Flower Ceiling''

At Hiraoka Hachiman-gu Shrine; This shrine was built by 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; Tel: 075-871-2084

Mar. 4, 11, 17, 18, 25, 31
Dance Show by Maiko or Geiko

At Fureaikan Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts; Dance performance by an authentic maiko (apprentice of 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; Tel: 075-762-2670; kmtc.jp

Mar. 9
Amagoi Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kifune Shrine; 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.

Kyoto City Bus #17, get off at Demachiyanagi-eki-mae and take the Eizan Railway to Kibune-guchi Stn. (then walk for 30 min. to the shrine); Tel: 075-741-2016; kifunejinja.jp

Mar. 9 - May 6
Buddhist Temple Experience ''Kotohajime''

At Entoku-in Temple; A variety of hands-on Buddhist experiences: Zazen meditation, tea ceremony, Cho-kyo listening to Buddhist sutra chanting, Shabutsu Buddhist image copying and more.

10:00-21:30 (tea ceremony: 10:30-16:00; 500 yen); No reservation required; www.zen-kotohajime.com

Mar. 10
Geino Jotatsu Kigan Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple; Special ceremony starts from 13:00; A kyogen theatre performance by the Shigeyama Chuzaburo Family will also be held; 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.

Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-862-0013; www.kokuzohourinji.com

From Mar. 10
Hozu River Boat Ride

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: Tel: 0771-22-5846; www.hozugawakudari.jp

Mar. 10 - 18
Plum Viewing Party

At Shozan Resort Kyoto; Shozan Resort is located in the tranquil Takagamine area in the northern part of the city; Delicious lunch, matcha green tea and sweet included in the entry fee to the garden.

10:30-14:30; From 5,400 yen for lunch courses; From Kitaoji Bus Terminal, take the Kita (north) #1 and get off at Kita Konohanacho; Tel: 075-491-5101; www.shozan.co.jp

Mar. 13
Ogoma Memorial Service

At Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei; At Minemichi Square located in the Saito area, a special ceremony to pray for world peace and people's happiness will be held by making a big fire; Sweet sake will be offered free of charge.

10:00-14:00; Take Hiei-zan Drive Bus from Kyoto Stn., Keihan Sanjo or Demachiyanagi, get off at Enryakuji Bus Center; Tel: 077-578-0001; www.hieizan.or.jp

Mar. 10 & 24
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; 10th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 24th at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Mar. 14 & 15, April 3
Seiryu-e Dragon Performance

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kiyomizu Temple; A large blue dragon, the symbol of this temple (and the guardian of the eastern side of Kyoto), is paraded through the temple area from 14:00 accompanied by a large number of people in traditional clothing.

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

Mar. 15
Saga Dai Nenbutsu Kyogen & Otaimatsu

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Fire Ritual; At Seiryo-ji Temple; Together with the Nehan-e ceremony, a massive otaimatsu torch lighting ritual will be held from around 20:00; The Saga Shaka Nenbutsu Kyogen play, one of Kyoto's three largest religious performances, is held 3 times on this day (15:30/17:00/18:30).

400 yen; Kyoto Bus #71, 72, get off at Saga Shakado-mae; Tel: 075-861-0343

Mar. 17

At Daisen-in Temple in Daitoku-ji Temple precincts; 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 (9:30-15:30).

400 yen; (matcha green tea: 1,000 yen); Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Daitokuji-mae; Tel: 075-491-8346; www.b-model.net/daisen-in

Mar. 17 & 18
Kyo-mono Kyoto Crafts Festival

At 3F Fureai-kan Kyoto Museum of Traditional Crafts; About 65 shops from various fields of traditional crafts, confectioneries, sake and many more will be opened; Handmade crafts festival is held at the same venue.

10:00-17:00 (until 16:00 on 18th); Kyoto City Bus #5, #100, get off at Okazakikoen Bijutsukan Heian Jingu-mae; Tel: 075-762-2670; kmtc.jp

Mar. 18-21
Spring Special Opening

At Rokudo Chinno-ji Temple; One of the temple treasures paintings will be open for viewing by the public for the first time and other valuable treasures will also be exhibited.

500 yen; 9:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-561-4129; www.rokudou.jp

Mar. 20-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 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; Tel: 075-691-3325; www.toji.or.jp

Mar. 24-April 8
Spring Special Opening

At Reikan-ji Temple; A Buddhist nunnery established in 1654; Very popular for its superb camellia flowers including the Nikko Tsubaki which is designated as the city's special natural monument.

600 yen; 10:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Shinnyodo-mae.

Mar. 25
Hanezu Odori Dance and Plum Blossom Viewing

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Zuishin-in Temple; This temple is famous for its plum garden; Children in faint pink traditional costumes sing and dance in this celebrated annual performance of the Hanezu Odori.

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

Mar. 25-April 7
Kitano Odori

At Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre; An annual dance performance by the maiko and geiko of the Kamishichiken district.

4,800 yen with matcha green tea, 4,300 yen without tea; From 13:30 & 16:00; Kyoto City Bus #50, 101, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; Tel: 075-461-0148; www.maiko3.com

Mar. 30-April 1
Kyoto Antique Fair

At Pulse Plaza; 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.

11:00-19:00 (until 20:00 on April 1); Tel: 075-212-5221; For details, please check their website: www.sakuyosa.com

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Mar. 4
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, 18, 28
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 items 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. 24
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.

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.

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.