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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.

Expect major traffic congestion during the Kyoto Marathon on Feb. 16
Due to the Kyoto Marathon 2020, major traffic restrictions will be in place all over the city on Feb. 16. Many large streets will be closed off during key stages of the race and this will severely affect travel in the city. Many key bus lines will either shut down or use alternate routes.

February's Top-picked Events

Celebrating Setsubun
To avoid misfortune & welcome 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 known as Setsubun in Japan. Though it's not a national holiday, the event is widely celebrated throughout the country in various forms.

This tradition, which dates back to the Muromachi period (1336-1573), was a way to mark the changing season and prepare for the spring festival. Usually, the house is cleaned in preparation for the festival, and Setstubun is celebrated on the eve of spring, to cleanse the house of the bad luck and misfortune of the year before (much like the preparations for New Year's today).

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At the center of the festivities is the Mamemaki (bean throwing) which consists of the male of each household born in that year's corresponding zodiac symbol (or the male head of the household) throwing beans out the door (or at village members dressed as oni (demons), shouting ''oni wa soto (demons out!) fuku wa uchi! (good luck in!)'' and slamming the door. Today -in the rare household that still celebrates this ancient ritual- the entire family typically joins in to participate in this symbolic (and fun) gesture.

After the mame-maki, beans are eaten by all, to welcome in good luck and health: One for each year, plus an extra for the coming year. That beans were chosen makes perfect sense, as they are a miracle food: high in protein, containing beneficial fats and rich in calcium, vitamins and minerals. One can appreciate the importance of beans in the old days, before the custom of eating meat, but everyone can benefit by eating more of this most vital and humble little food, even today.

Setsubun Festival Rituals & Events in Kyoto

Feb. 2-4
Yoshida Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

The largest Setsubun festival in Kyoto. People come to burn old amulets, papers and other personal possessions in a huge bonfire. Many food and fun stalls line the shrine approach and are open until late. Setsubun demon ritual from 18:00 on the 2nd and bonfire from 23:00 on the 3rd; www.yoshidajinja.com

Feb. 2 & 3
Yasaka Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

A Setsubun ceremony includes auspicious soy bean scattering, sweet Japanese sake service, and an amulet offering. Maiko from all of Kyoto's Kagai districts will visit the shrine and join the bean scattering (dance dedication from 13:00 & 15:00); www.yasaka-jinja.or.jp

Feb. 2 & 3
Mibu Temple

Mibu Kyogen performances (from 13:00 each day), a procession, goma prayer-stick burning fire ceremony, and special prayers will be held; Yamabushi monk and children's procession from 14:00 on the 2nd; www.mibudera.com

Feb. 3
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine

The Setsubun Festival starts from 13:00. Kyogen comic plays by the Shigeyama Family and dance performance by maiko from the Kamishichiken. After the ceremony; maiko will join in the bean scattering; www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Feb. 3
Rozan-ji Temple

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Very well-known for its Setsubun Oni Odori (demon dance) from 15:00, bean scattering from 16:00, old amulet burning from 17:00; www7a.biglobe.ne.jp/~rozanji/

Feb. 3
Heian Shrine

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

Kyogen comic plays from 11:30. The Setsubun festival starts from 14:00 with a kyogen performance and bean scattering from 15:00. Free sweet sake will be served throughout the day; Tel: 075-761-0221; www.heianjingu.or.jp

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; During cold months (until Mar. 9), the boat will be covered by plastic cover and be heated inside; Boats depart at 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 14:30.

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

Fri., Sat., Sun. until Mar. 1
Night Time Tea Ceremony Tour

At Kodaiji Temple; Founded in the 16th century by Nene, the wife of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, to commemorate his spirit; The tour includes tea ceremony, entry to the garden and a Japanese dinner (the tour lasts about 3 hours).

7,000 yen (reservation required by the previous day); sign-up 17:00-18:00; Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; www.kodaiji.com

Jan. 25-Feb. 1
Miyama Yukitouro

In Miyama Village; Miyama is a charming old village out of Kyoto City where the old folk culture of thatched roof houses and countryside life are still alive; Traditional thatched roof houses will be magically lit-up with a number of lanterns made with snow (or bamboo lantern when no snowfall); Gorgeous fireworks on the first and last day (from 18:40).

Access: Take JR Sagano Line from Kyoto Stn. to Hiyoshi, and take the local bus to Kita Stop; www.yukitouro.jp

Feb. 1 & 3
Yutate Ritual

At Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine; Holy water is boiled in a big iron pot and offered to the deity; A miko, a shrine maiden, holding a bamboo shoot scatters the water swiftly around the area to dispel bad spirits and pray for good health for the year.

Ritual starts from 12:00 on each day; Take cable car from Yawata Stn. on Keihan Line; www.iwashimizu.or.jp

Feb. 2 & 3
Mibu Kyogen

At Mibu Temple: Mibu Kyogen performances (every hour between 13:00 and 20:00; Free of charge), a procession, goma prayer-stick burning fire ceremony, and special prayers.

Access: Kyoto City Bus #26, get off at Mibudera-michi; www.mibudera.com

Feb. 3
Setsubun Ritual in Machiya Town House

At Tondaya; An exquisite cultural facility where people can learn about and enjoy Kyoto's traditional lifestyle forms; Learn about Setsubun culture in this exquisite machiya town house filled with Kyoto's beautiful essence.

Lunch 10,000 yen (11:00-13:00); Dinner 15,000 yen (17:00-19:00); Lecture and machiya visit + tea ceremony+meal (reservations required from 2 people); Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Ichijo Modoribashi Seimeijinja-mae; www.tondaya.co.jp

Feb. 8
Hari Kuyo Ceremony for Pins & Needles

At Kokuzo Horin-ji Temple; The deity of needle work and entertainment; Professional seamstresses and housewives stick their used needles in a piece of konnyaku rubbery jelly; Prayers at 13:00; Ama-sake (Japanese sweet sake) will be offered.

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

Feb. 8 & 22
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 at Sakura Urushitei; Email: sakura@urushitei.jp ; 22nd at Sakura Honganji; Email: culture@kyotoryokan-sakura.com

Feb. 9
Hatsu Uma Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Fushimi Inari Shrine; Festival held from 8:00; 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; People pray for success in business and a healthy family life.

JR Nara Line, Inari Stn. or Keihan Railways Main Line, Fushimi Inari Stn.; inari.jp

Feb. 9
Hoshi Matsuri Fire Ceremony

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Agon-shu main temple; The ceremonies conducted through secret rites of esoteric Buddhism pray for individual happiness throughout the year, as well as for world peace and prosperity; The opening lighting of the pyres is followed by chanting, traditional dances, music, and prayers throughout the day.

9:30-15:30; Take the shuttle bus from Kyoto Station, Hachijoguchi exit, every 15 min., direct to site (about 20 min; 300 yen); www.agon.org

Feb. 9-12
Hatsu Uma Daikon Radish Ceremony

At Sanzen-in Temple; Located in rural Ohara village in north east part of Kyoto city; A boiled white radish organically grown in the Ohara area will be offered to visitors free of charge; Prayers for health and good luck will be offered from 10:00 & 14:00.

700 yen; Kyoto Bus #17, 18, get off at Ohara; http://www.sanzenin.or.jp/

Feb. 11
Kigen-sai Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kamigamo Shrine; The festival is to commemorate the coronation of Emperor Kanmu and a children's karate performance (from around 10:15) and kemari, an ancient style soccer game (from around 11:00) will be held in the precinct.

Kyoto City Bus #46, get off at Kamigamo Jinja-mae; www.kamigamojinja.jp

Feb. 11
Rice Porridge Offering

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Jonan-gu Shrine; To pray for health and longevity, rice porridge with seven different kinds of Japanese spring herbs will be offered (10:00-16:00; 500 yen per bowl).

600 yen (entry to the garden); Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; www.jonangu.com

Feb. 18-Mar. 22
Weeping Plum Blossoms and Camellia

At Jonan-gu Shrine; With five separate gardens surrounding the main shrine area, visitors are able to enjoy a variety of natural offerings, particularly famous for its weeping plum blossoms of more than 150 varieties in late winter and early spring. 300 camellia trees will be in bloom in February and March, too. The gods of the shrine are said to have control over direction-based luck, so those about to move or take a trip might want to stop by and offer a prayer.

600 yen; 9:00-16:00; Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Subway Karasuma Line, Takeda Stn. to Jonangu Higashi-guchi; www.jonangu.com

Feb. 23
Godai Rikisan

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Juntei-do Hall in Sekizenin Temple; Five Forceful Bodhisattvas are displayed to the public only once a year; Worship led by yamabushi (mountain monks) held from 13:00-16:00; Free soup made from a sake lees will be served.

10:30-17:00; Kyoto City Bus # 206, get off at Kumano Jinja-mae.

Feb. 23
Godai Rikison Ninno-e

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Daigo-ji Temple; The Godairikison Ninno-e is held to pray for the immediate elimination of misfortunes and creation of good fortunes. The main highlight of the day is the ''Mochi-age'' or ceremonial rice cake lifting contest; people compete to lift enormous mochi rice cakes: men: 150 kg and women: 90 kg, starting around noon.

A 10-min. walk from Daigo Stn. on the Subway Tozai Line; www.daigoji.or.jp

Feb. 23 & 24
Fushimi Sake Brewery Opening

In Fushimi; Fushimi, in the southern part of Kyoto, has long been renowned as one of the best sake production areas in Japan; Four sake breweries open their breweries and release their newly brewed sake for the year from 300 yen.

11:00-15:00; Momoyama Goryo-mae Stn. on Kintetsu train or Fushimi Momoyama Stn. on Keihan train; www.fushimi.or.jp

Feb. 23-Mar. 1
Design Week Kyoto 2020

Various locations throughout the city; Over 40 factories and studios within and around Kyoto City will be open, enabling visitors to see how articles are produced by craftspeople and artists as well as offering the chance to engage in conversations with the producers; Read more on pg 4.

For details and bookings, visit their website: www.designweek-kyoto.com / www.facebook.com/DesignWeekKyoto/

Feb. 25
Baika-sai Plum Blossom Viewing Festival

© Takayoshi Horiuchi (Staff for one)

At Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine; Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is home to nearly 2,000 plum trees; The festival starts with a prayer for the repose of the soul of Sugawara-no Michizane (845-903), the deity enshrined here; An outdoor tea ceremony, performed under the lovely plum blossoms by the geiko and maiko of the Kamishichiken district.

Matcha green tea and a sweet for 2,000 yen (incl.entry to the Treasure Hall); 10:00-15:00; Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp

Feb. 29 & Mar. 1
Artists' Fair Kyoto

The fair will feature some of the most forward-thinking works of art (also available for sale); The entire process from art selection and curation to exhibition design and operation logistics is handled directly by amateur and professional artists from all walks of life.

At the Museum of Kyoto Annex and the basement of the Kyoto Shimbun Building; For more information, visit their website: artists-fair.kyoto/

Temple & Shrine Flea Markets


Feb. 1
Handicraft Market at Umekoji Park: 9:00-16:00

Feb. 2
Flea Market at To-ji Temple: 7:00-16:00

Feb. 8, 18, 28
Handicraft Market at Toyokuni Shrine: 10:00-15:00

Feb. 8
Heian Rakuichi Market at Okazaki Park: 10:00-16:00

Feb. 15
Handicraft Market at Chion-ji Temple: 8:00-16:00

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

Feb. 23
Kamigamo Handcraft Market at Kamigamo Shrine: 9:00-16:00

Feb. 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.