Home > Kyoto This Month > 2018 Dec.-2019 Jan. Event Highlights

2018 Dec.-2019 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 1

Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro-2018
Dec. 8-17
17:00-20:30 (rain-or-shine)

Togetsu-kyo Bridge

Arashiyama Hanatouro, one of the most popular large-scale modern events in the Old Capital, is staged every December in the Saga Arashiyama district. An approx. 5-km path will be lined with a number of lanterns made using Kyoto craft techniques and materials. Along the route, visitors will also find a number of huge ikebana flower arrangement displays.

Ikebana flower arrangement

*During the event period, night time special opening/light-ups will be held at some surrounding temples/shrines & cultural facilities; Also, other various events are scheduled to be held; For details, see their website: www.hanatouro.jp/e

Photos courtesy of Kyoto Hanatouro Promotion Council

December's Top-picked Events 2

A gorgeous Kabuki festivity that illuminates the end of the year in Kyoto

"KAOMISE" Grand Kabuki
Starring Actors from East and West

December 1st Sat. – 26th Wed.
Show time: Approx. 5-6 hours (including 3 intermissions)
English Earphone Guide is available

10:30 a.m. - approx. 4:15 p.m.

Evening Show
4:50 p.m. - approx. 9:55 p.m.

Tickets (tax incl.)
First Class: 25,000 yen
Second Class A: 12,000 yen
Second Class B: 10,000 yen
Third Class: 8,000 yen
Fourth Class: 6,000 yen
Special Seat: 27,000 yen

Tickets Purchase
Online (English): https://www1.ticket-web-shochiku.com/en/
Telephone: Ticket Phone Shochiku: 0570-000-489 (10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.)
*Tickets are also available at the Minamiza Theatre box office
(9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.).
*Ticket returns, exchanges and refunds are not accepted.

Kabuki, the amazing entertainment of Japan!
Kabuki is the Japanese traditional theatre form that is performed exclusively by men. Its stages entrance audiences with many remarkable features, such as elaborately designed kimono costumes, eye-catching make-up, outlandish wigs, moving stories, the exaggerated actions and beautiful Japanese dances. Kaomise is the festive Kabuki production starring Japan's most famous Kabuki actors, held annually at the end of the year and well-known as a winter tradition in Kyoto. This is the only chance in the year to experience an event where famous Kabuki actors come together in Kyoto!

On the southeast corner of Shijo and Kawabata, east of Shijo Bridge

Every Day
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 10:00-14:30 (the last boat departs at 14:30). *No operation from Dec. 29 to Jan. 4.

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 Dec. 9
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); *Closed on Dec. 7 & 8; No reservation required; www.zen-kotohajime.com

Until Dec. 29
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 the tourist season).

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

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. 3
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.

Boiled white radish offerings are available between 10:00 and 16:00 on both days for 1,000 yen; Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; www.daihoonji.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 from 13:00 until 14:00; A traditional Japanese dance performance and sweet sake offering will be held.

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

Dec. 8 & 22 & Jan. 12 & 26
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; 8th & Jan. 12th at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 22nd & Jan. 26th at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.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 symbolize the year'' on a large sheet of paper on the stage in front of the 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 In Gion

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

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.miyakomesse.jp

Dec. 13-25
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 from this day (700 yen/6 plums) until the stock runs out at the shrine.

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

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.

Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; www.rokuhara.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; This pumpkin special ceremony starts from 10:00; A pumpkin is set in front of the main hall and people come to touch it to ward off illness; 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. 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 on the 31st.

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 Rokuharamitsu-ji 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); From 13:00 on the 3rd, kyogen comic theatre will be performed; People also come here during this period to write the first calligraphy of the year (50 yen/paper; 10:00-16:00).

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. 9-10
Ebisu Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In Gion 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. 11-13
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 Jingumae; www.miyakomesse.jp

Jan. 13
New Year Japanese Archery Competition

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Sanjusangen-do Temple; This interesting and difficult archery contest originated in the 16th century; Today, the contest is mostly ceremonial but many archers still compete (9:00-15:30).

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

Jan. 14
Seijin-no-hi Coming-of-age Day

At various sites throughout Kyoto; On this day, young men and women who are 20-years old celebrate their coming of age; Young women dressed in gorgeous kimono can be seen all over the city, but Heian Jingu Shrine and Yasaka Shrine in the Gion 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
Musha 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. 2 & Jan. 6
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.

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

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

Dec. 21 & Jan. 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.

Dec. 22 & Jan. 26
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.

Dec. 23 & Jan. 27
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.

Dec. 25 & Jan. 25
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.