March Event Highlights
*Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.
Praying for the Girls' Healthy Growth
Hina Matsuri (March 3rd)
Hina Matsuri, or Doll Festival, is the one of the traditional Japanese celebrations for children held on March 3rd. 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 peach blossom season in the old lunar calendar.
Maby families with girls display hina ningyo, a special doll set for Hina Matsuri and dedicate peach blossoms to them. A large set of the dolls are usually arranged on a five or seven-tiered stand covered with a red carpet. At the top are the Emperor (Odairi-sama) and Empress (Ohina-sama). The next step contains three court ladies (Sannin kanjo), followed by five musicians (Gonin bayashi), two ministers (Udaijin and Sadaijin), and three servants ending the bottom row in a five-tiered display. There are also small pieces of furniture, small meal dishes, and other interesting articles.
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
Hina Matsuri Festival at Ichihime Shrine
On this day people visit this shrine dressed up in Heian period costumes and arrange themselves like the dolls in a traditional tiered hina ningyo doll set; A dance performance, juni hitoe (12 layer kimono) dressing demonstration, and tea service will also be featured (13:00-16:00)
Entry: 1,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #17, 205, get off at Kawaramachi Shomen; Tel: 075-361-2775; *Please note that some areas are off-limits in the precinct.
Nagashi Bina at Shimogamo Shrine
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.
Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-jinja-mae; Tel: 075-761-3460 (Kyoto Doll Association); www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp/
From Mar. 1
Sagano Sightseeing Tram Ride
The Sagano Sightseeing Tram 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 tourist season).
Tickets: 600 yen (one way); Access: JR Saga Arashiyama Stn.; Sagano Kanko Tetsudo: Tel: 075-861-7444; www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/
Nehan-e at Shinnyo-do Temple
February 15th (in the lunar calendar) is the day on which the historical Buddha passed away; A large and colorful Buddhist painting called Nehan-zu in which the scene of Buddha's passage into Nirvana will be displayed; There are 127 different kinds of creatures in the painting in total and no other Nehan-zu in Japan shows so many
Entry: 600 yen; 9:00-16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Shinnyodo-mae; Tel: 075-771-0915; shin-nyo-do.jp/
Mar. 1 - April 3
Doll Exhibition at Hokyo-ji Temple
The girl's celebration, Hina Matsuri Ceremony will be held from 11:00-11:30 on the 1st; during the exhibition period, many kinds of Japanese dolls in the collection from small size to life sized dolls will be displayed in a traditional atmosphere.
Entry: 600 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Horikawa Teranouchi; Tel: 075-451-1550.
Shunto-e at Sanjusangen-do Temple
The master of flower arrangement of the Ikenobo School visits the temple and offers flowers to the deity; Women will receive a special peach amulet from the temple.
Admission free; 9:00-15:30; Access: Kyoto City Bus #100, 206, 208, get off at Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae; Tel: 075-561-0467; sanjusangendo.jp/
Amagoi Festival 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.
Access: Kyoto City Bus #17, get off at Demachiyanagi-eki-mae and take Eizan Railways to Kibune-guchi Stn. (then walk for 30 min. to the shrine); Tel: 075-741-2016; kifunejinja.jp/
Geino Jotatsu Kigan Festival at Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple
The special ceremony for this event starts from 13:00; A kyogen theatre performance by the Shigeyama Chuzaburo Family will also be held on this day; 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
Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0069; www2.ocn.ne.jp/~horinji/
From Mar. 10
Hozugawa Kudari River Run
The Hozugawa Kudari is 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).
Tickets: 3,900 yen; Access: 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. 14 & 15, April 3
Seiryu-e at Kiyomizu Temple
The grand parade for this colorful event starts from 14:00; A large blue dragon, the symbol of this temple (and the guardian of the east side of Kyoto), is paraded through the temple area accompanied by many people in traditional clothing.
Entry: 300 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi; Tel: 075-551-1234; www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/
Nehan-e & Otaimatsu Fire Ritual at Seiryo-ji Temple
At the Nehan-e ceremony (memorial ceremony for Buddha's nirvana; from 10:00), you can see an otaimatsu torch lighting ritual, held from around 20:00 which is said to reproduce the scene of when Buddha passed away; Their Saga Shaka Dai Nenbutsu (sutra chanting) is one of Kyoto's three largest religious performances.
9:00-16:00; Free entry only on the night of Nehan-e ceremony day; Access: Kyoto Bus #71, 72, get off at Saga Shakado-mae; Tel: 075-861-0343.
Kokei-ki at Daisen-in Temple in Daitoku-ji Temple
This ceremony (9:30-15:30) is 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 will also be available on this day.
Ticket: 1,400 yen (with matcha green tea); Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Daitokuji-mae; Tel: 075-491-8346; www.b-model.net/daisen-in/
Until Mar. 21
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 in Feb. and Mar.
Entry: 600 yen; Access: Take City Bus #1, 2, 3 from subway Takeda Stn. and get off at Jonangu Higashi-guchi; Tel: 075-623-0846; www.jonangu.com
Mar. 25-April 7
Kitano Odori at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre
The Kitano Odori is an annual dance performance by maiko and geiko of the Kamishichiken district. This annual event officially begun jointly in 1952 in commemoration of the 1,050th anniversary of Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine.
Tickets: 4,500 yen with matcha green tea, 4,000 yen without tea; From 13:30 & 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; Tel: 075-461-0148; www.maiko3.com/
Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza
This is 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.
Access: Take Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Takeda Stn. on the Karasuma subway line, get off at Pulse Plaza-mae; Tel: 077-522-2307 (Gomokudo); Free shuttle bus service available from Takeda Stn.; 10:00-17:00 (until 16:00 on the last day).
Hanezu Odori Dance and Plum Blossom Viewing at Zuishin-in Temple
This temple is famous for its plum garden and is open to the public at this time of the year; Children in faint pink traditional costumes sing and dance in this celebrated annual performance of the Hanezu Odori.
Entry: 1,000 yen; Dance from 11:00; 3-4 performances will be held between 11:00 and 16:30; Access: Tozai subway line, Ono Stn.; Tel: 075-571-0025; www.zuishinin.or.jp/
Until April 3
Machiya Hina Matsuri Festival at Tondaya
Tondaya is an exquisite cultural facility where people can learn about and enjoy Kyoto traditional lifestyle forms. About 100 hina matsuri dolls will be displayed and participants will enjoy a fine classic meal; 8,400 yen (machiya visit and instruction, special meal included).
Reservations required (2 people minimum); 11:00-13:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi; Tel: 075-432-6701; www.tondaya.co.jp/
Temple & Shrine Flea Markets
Mar. 2, Sun.
This market (first Sun. of month) is focused on antiques of all kinds; Usually not too crowded and great value all around; 7:00-16:00.
Kyoto City Hall
A huge public flea market; 10:00-17:00.
Mar. 9, Sun.
Bishamon-do in Kennin-ji Temple
Known as Tora-ichi, this market (second Sun. of month) specializes in handicrafts & arts; Full of vigor of young crafts people and artists;10:00-16:00.
Mar. 15, Sat.
Kyoto's biggest handicraft market (15th of every month); An absolutely amazing range of handmade things and incredible prices too!; 8:00-16:00.
Mar. 21, Fri.
Also known as Kobo-san, this mega temple market (21st of every month) offers everything and is extremely popular; Go early, especially if on a weekend or a national holiday; 7:00-17:00.
Mar. 23, Sun.
About 250 stalls offering handicrafts, arts, food, and more in the sacred precinct of the World Heritage Kamigamo Shrine (4th Sun. of month); 9:00-16:00.
Mar. 25, Tues.
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine
Also known as Tenjin-san, this super shrine market (25th of every month) sprawls in and around this major shrine complex; 7:00-16:30.
Mar. 30, Sun.
Kyoto City Hall
A fun public flea market (about 180 stalls); 10:00-17:00.
NOTE: Markets shut down much earlier in autumn and winter; when the days get longer and warmer sellers might stay a little longer.