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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 Events1

Gozan-no Okuribi
Sending off the sprits until next Obon

© 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. The fires are used as a way of guiding the spirits of the dead back to the Buddhist Pure Land, after being 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 mountains surrounding the city: Dai, Myo, Ho, Funa-gata (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

August's Top-picked Events2

Amazing Hanabi Firework Displays

Aug. 11
Kameoka Peace Festival Fireworks in Kameoka

A grand total of 5,000 fireworks will adorn the night sky; From 19:30; Venue: Right bank of Hozu River, upstream from the Hozu Bridge; A 10-min. walk from the north gate of JR Kameoka Stn. (From Kyoto Stn., take JR Sanin Line to Kameoka Stn.; about 20-min. by express train)

Aug. 8
Otsu Lake Biwa Fireworks Festival

About 10,000 fireworks will illuminate the night sky; 19:30-20:30 (In case of bad weather, postponed to Aug. 10); Venue: Otsu Port offshore; From Tozai Keihan Sanjo Stn., takes about 25-min. to Keihan Otsu Stn. (about 5-min. walk to the Otsu Port).

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; Boats depart every hour between 9:00 and 15:30 (7 services).

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

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.

620 yen (one way); JR Sagano Line Saga Arashiyama Stn.; www.sagano-kanko.co.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 Demachiyanagieki-mae 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 a bento meal + all-you-can- drink); 20:00-21:30 (5,000 yen /person for hors d’oeuvre + all you-can-drink); Closed: July 28 & 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

Until Sept. 5
Beer Garden with Maiko

At Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre; A special summer-time beer garden is opened at the oldest of Kyoto's five Kagai district; People can enjoy beer and dining while maiko (apprentice geiko) in casual summer kimono come to your table to offer their greetings.

17:30-22:00 (L.O. 21:30); Closed Aug. 14-16; www.maiko3.com

Until Sept. 30
Ukai Traditional Cormorant Fishing

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Such an exotic summer entertainment in Kyoto; The Master trainer of cormorants skillfully manipulates cormorants to catch small trout in the water with only the light of pine torches lit on the boats.

In Arashiyama (until Sept. 23); Randen Arashiyama Stn.; 19:00 & 20:00; Adults: 1,800 yen, children: 900 yen (under 13); arashiyamayakatabune.com ; In Uji; Keihan or JR Uji Stn.; Boat departs at 19:00; Adults: 2,000 yen, children: 1,000 yen (under 13); www.kyoto-uji-kankou.or.jp/

Aug. 1-16
Fushimi Jikkoku-bune Boat Ride

At Fushimi's Uji River; Jikkoku-bune used to carry food stuffs and passengers along the Yodo River in the Edo period; The boat tour takes about 50-min. and goes past willow trees and sake breweries.

1,200 yen; 10:00-16:20; Access: Kintetsu Line, Momoyama Goryo-mae Stn., or Keihan Line, Chushojima Stn.; kyoto-fushimi.or.jp/ship/

Aug. 3, 4 & 10-15 & 17, 18
Summer Night Time Special Opening

At Toei Kyoto Studio Park; The amusement park's film & TV set will be lit up at night, and many stalls will be lined up; 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); 9:00-21:00; JR Sagano Line, Uzumasa Stn. or Subway Tozai Line, Uzumasa Tenjingawa Stn.; www.toei-eigamura.com

Sat. & Sun. of Aug. & 13-16
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. 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; Tanabata traditional star festival decorations will adorn the temple precinct.

300 yen with candle; 9:00-20:00;Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Aug. 7
Summer Purification & Arrow Ritual

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Shimogamo Shrine; From around 19:00, local men will compete to collect a sacred arrow into 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

Started in the early Taisho period (1912-1926), it is now one of the biggest pottery festivals in Japan, with about 350,000 visitors each year; About 350 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)

At various temples in the city; 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 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; at Mibu Temple

Aug. 14
Senbon Rokusai Nenbutsu:
From 19:00; at 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 20:30; the 20th at Kofuku-ji Temple from 20:00; and on the 22nd at Jozen-ji Temple from 19:30.

Aug. 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: kyototourlounge@kyotoinnandtour.com ; 24th at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

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; Also 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 (Gozan-no Okuribi); Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen

Light Festival in Tadasu-no Mori

At Shimogamo Shrine; The ancient Tadasu-no Mori Forest will be turned into an art space with the installations 'Resisting and Resonating Ovoids' and 'Forest and Floating, Resonating Spheres' produced by the ''teamLab'', an art collective and interdisciplinary group of ultratechnologists.

1,300 yen (weekdays), 1,500 yen (weekends); free of charge for children younger than 12; Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-Jinja-mae; www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp

Aug. 18-31
Antique Kimono Exhibition

At Tondaya; Experience what living in a machiya merchant's house was like; Their machiya tour (45 min.) will provide instruction about the lifestyle and traditions of merchants; Some of their valuable antique kimono are exhibited, too.

Kyoto City Bus #9, 12, get off at Ichijo Modori-bashi/Seimei Jinja-mae; www.tondaya.co.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. 25
Emperor Saga Festival

At Umenomiya Taisha Shrine; To commemorate the many works that were achieved by Emperor Saga, many traditional events will be held; 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).

550 yen; Kyoto City Bus #3, 28, 29, 71, get off at Umenomiya Jingu-mae; www.umenomiya.or.jp

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Aug. 3
Handcraft Market at Umekoji Park: 9:00-16:00

Aug. 4
Kitayama Craft Market at Garden of Fine Art: 10:00-16:00

Aug. 4
Flea Market at To-ji Temple: 7:00-16:00

Aug. 8, 18, 28
Handcraft Market at Toyokuni Shrine: 10:00-15:00

Aug. 10
Heian Rakuichi Market at Okazaki Park: 10:00-16:00

Aug. 15
Handcraft Market at Chion-ji Temple: 8:00-16:00

Aug. 21
Kobo-san Flea Market at To-ji Temple: 8:00-16:00

Aug. 24
Kyoto Okazaki Handcraft Marche: 11:00-17:00

Aug. 25
Tenjin-san Flea Market at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine: 7:00-16:30

Aug. 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.