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February 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 Events

Getting rid of misfortune & welcoming spring

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

February 3rd, which is one day before Risshun (the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar), is called Setsubun in Japan. It's not a national holiday, but is widely celebrated throughout Japan. Mame maki (bean throwing) ceremonies are performed on Setsubun. Traditionally, people throw roasted soy beans throughout their home, shouting 'oni wa soto' (demons out) and 'fuku wa uchi' (fortune in). These beans are called fuku mame (fortune beans). It is believed that people will be healthy and happy if they eat the number of fuku mame equal to their age.

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Eating fortune sushi rolls is another Japanese custom on Setsubun. You should face west southwest this year while you silently eat your sushi roll. Bean throwing ceremonies are held at many temples and shrines around the country. People visit shrines and temples to get beans and thus obtain good fortune. Visit shrines and temples near you in Kyoto on Setsubun!

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Feb. 2 & 3
Yasaka Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The ceremony starts from 13:00; Auspicious soy bean scattering, Ama-sake (Japanese sweet sake) service and amulet offering; On these two days beautiful maiko from all four of Kyoto's flower towns will visit this shrine and scatter beans (dance from 13:00).

Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; Tel: 075-561-6155; www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp/

Feb. 2 & 3
Suga Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

From 15:00 on the 2nd, the bean scattering ceremony will be held; A unique charm looks like paper folding which used to be a love letter in old times will be distributed by men wearing ancient Heian-era costume (1,000 yen).

Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae; Tel: 075-771-1178

Feb. 2-4
Yoshida Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This is the largest Setsubun festival in the city; Attending is believed to help in warding off misfortune; During the event people come to burn old amulets, papers and other personal possessions in a huge bonfire; A number of food stalls lined up along the approach to the shrine and are open until very late; The Setsubun ritual is from 18:00 on the 2nd; On the 3rd, the Karo-sai festival will be held from around 23:00 and its grounds will be packed with many people!

Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Kyodai Seimon-mae; Tel: 075-771-3788; www.yoshidajinja.com

Feb. 3
Rozan-ji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The temple's Setsubun ritual is known as Oni Odori (demon dance). The oni demon dance: from 15:00, and bean scattering from 16:00, old amulet burning from 17:00.

Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Furitsu Idai Byoin-mae; Tel: 075-231-0355.

Feb. 3
Heian Jingu Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Kyogen performance: 11:30-14:00; Setsubun Festival: from 13:00; Auspicious bean scattering from 15:00; Setsubun bon fire: from 16:00; Free Ama-sake (Japanese sweet sake) service (all day).

Access: Kyoto City Bus #5, get off at Okazaki Koen / Bijutsukan, Heian Jingu-mae; Tel: 075-761-0221; Setsubun Ceremony at Yasaka Shrine 075-761-0221; www.heianjingu.or.jp/

Every Day
Hozugawa Kudari River Run

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The Hozugawa Kudari is a river ride that goes from Kameoka to Arashiyama, Kyoto (about 16km 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 on Feb. 19 due to the maintenance work.

Tickets: 4,100 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/

Until Mar. 1
(Fri., Sat., Sun. only)
Kodai-ji Temple Night Time Tea Ceremony Tour

Kodai-ji Temple was founded by Nene, the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, to commemorate his death; Visitors can enjoy a fine bowl of green tea overlooking an excellent Japanese garden; The tour includes tea ceremony, entry to the garden, a Japanese dinner (the tour lasts 3 hours); Reservation required.

Tickets: 6,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; Tel: 075-752-7070 (Kyoto City Tourist Association); www.kodaiji.com/

Until Mar. 1
Kyoto Ikebana Flower Arrangement Exhibition

In the JR Kyoto Station Shinkansen concourse; Kyoto is the birth place of ikebana flower arrangement; Masters from various ikebana schools will display their exquisite ikebana works as a special way of welcoming visitors (may not be open on Mon. & Thu. due to display replacement).

No entry fee for those who are not arriving/departing Kyoto Station via Shinkansen bullet train, you are required to buy a platform ticket (120 yen) to enter the concourse. Access: JR Kyoto Stn.; Tel: Kyoto City Tourism Association: Tel: 075-752-7070

Feb. 18-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 in Feb. and Mar.

Entry: 600 yen; Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; Tel: 075-623-0846; www.jonangu.com

Feb. 8
Hari Kuyo Services for Pins & Needles at Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple

This temple enshrines the deity of needle work and entertainment; On this day, professional seamstresses and housewives stick their used needles in a slab of rubbery jelly; Prayers are said at 13:00; Ama-sake (Japanese sweet-sake) will be offered.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Arashiyama Koen; Tel: 075-861-0069; www2.ocn.ne.jp/~horinji/

Feb. 11
Hatsu Uma Festival at Fushimi Inari Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This grand festival is held from 8:00; The festival is based on the legend that the shrine deity, Inari (protector of grains, especially rice, and thus wealth/business in general), descended from heaven to the top of Mt. Inari; On this day, people pray for good business and a healthy family life.

No entry fee; Access: JR Nara Line, Inari Stn. or Keihan Railways Main Line, Fushimi Inari Stn.; Tel: 075-641-7331; inari.jp/

Kigen-sai Festival at Kamigamo Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In the old days, the day was called Kigen-setsu and it was the first regnal year of the emperor Kanmu. This festival is to commemorate the coronation and children's Karate performance (from around 10:15) and an ancient style soccer game (from around 11:00) will be held in the precinct.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #46, get off at Kamigamo jinja-mae; Tel: 075-781-0011; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Feb. 17
Nento-sai Feistival at Kamigamo Shrine

This festival is based on the recreation of an ancient ceremony that Heian-period aristocrats held to welcome spring; The ceremony starts from 14:00.

No entry fee; Access: Kyoto City Bus #46, get off at Kamigamo Jinja-mae; Tel: 075-781-0011; www.kamigamojinja.jp/

Feb. 23
Godai-Rikison Ninno-e at Daigo-ji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

In this amazing competition people compete to lift enormous mochi rice cakes; men 150 kg, and women 90 kg!

No entry fee; Access: a 10-15-min walk from Daigo Stn. on the Subway Tozai Line; Tel: 075-571-0002; www.daigoji.or.jp/

Feb. 25
Baika-sai Plum Blossom Viewing Festival at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

This huge outdoor tea ceremony (from 10:00-15:00), performed by the geiko and maiko, is very popular; Whipped matcha green tea and a sweet for 1,500 yen; Here, also the beautiful plum garden will be specially open to the public from early Feb. to end of March (600 yen with tea and sweet).

Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; Tel: 075-461-0005; www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp/

Mar. 1
Fushimi Sake Brewery Opening

Every year, Fushimi's sake breweries open to the public when the first sake of the year is ready; People can buy as well as taste fresh sake at several breweries on these days; Kyoto vegetables, sake, pickles, dried seafood, flowers and other fresh products will be on sale.

Sake tasting: 300 yen (includes small sake cup and three tickets); 11:00-15:00; Access: Kintetsu Railways Kyoto Line, Momoyama Goryomae Stn.; Tel: 075-612-6006 (Fushimi Meishu Association).

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets

Feb. 1
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.

Feb. 8
Kyoto City Hall

A big public flea market; 10:00-17:00; In case of rain, it will be postponed to 5th to 13th; 26th to Nov. 3rd.

Feb. 8
Toyokuni Shrine

A very small market of local products; 10:00-15:00.

Feb. 15
Chion-ji Temple

Kyoto's biggest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade things and incredible prices too!; 8:00-16:00.

Feb. 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; 5:00-16:00.

Feb. 22
Kamigamo Shrine

Handicrafts, arts, food, and more; 9:00-16:00.

Feb. 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.

NOTE: Markets shut down much earlier in autumn and winter; when the days get longer and warmer, sellers tend to stay a little longer.