Kyoto is the old capital of Japan long before the first phase of modernization started and Tokyo took its place. It is famous for its iconic Japanese classical architecture and the remnants of the power that were. Nowadays, it is particularly famous in the country for its unique tourism opportunities including breathtaking festivals. Here are just a few festivals and what they bring on the table for us to enjoy.
#1. Aoi Festival
Like many festivals in Kyoto, Aoi Festival is also tied to the history of the city. It is a touch of classic Japan and the main procession starts from the old Imperial Palace in the city. It is an ode to the history of the Heian aristocracy and the colors of the event are just too amazing. It customarily ends at the Kamigamo Shrine with a rare display and insight into the Japanese culture. It is one the three biggest festivals in the city.
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Address: Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City ,Kyoto
Access: 5 minute walk from Imadegawa Station
Date: May 15th, 2016
Website: Aoi Festival (Japanese)
#2. Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi
The Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi is a spectacular lighting ritual that mesmerizes tourists each year. On August 16th, all parts of the old capital are lit with fire beacons. It is tied to the summers like a few other festivals. The buildings include Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Nishiyama Matsugasaki and a few others. It is such a wonderful view to see all these dancing patterns of light at night. It is in remembrance of Law of thousand Mystic Lights of Kagoyama.
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Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi
Address: Jodoji Nanamawaricho, Sakyo Ward,Kyoto City ,Kyoto
Access: 1 minute walk from Jingu-marutamachi Station
Date: August 16th
Website: Kyoto Gozan no Okuribi (Japanese)
#3. Gion Festival
The Gion Festival is the biggest event in the calendar in Kyoto and rated among the top three in all of Japan. It is the celebration of a thousand-year-old tradition at the Yasaka shrine. Here, a popular spiritual awakening occurred that helped shape Japanese people’s beliefs. The festival itself is a big one with a celebratory convoy of over 33 ships taking part in it. The shrine itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site and the emblem of Japanese culture.
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Address: Yasaka Shrine, 625 Gioncho Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 1 minute walk from Gion Bus stop
Date: July 1st – 31th
Phone: 075-561-6155 (Yasaka shirine)
Website: Yasaka Shirine
#4. Kyoto Kamogawa Festival
The Kamogawa Festival is also part of summer celebrations in the historic city. This one is all about the river and how it made the area an oasis. It is one of the more peaceful celebrations with less noise and music, people just enjoy their time on the riverbanks. Definitely look forward to this festival!
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Kyoto Kamogawa Festival
Address: 150 Umenokicho , Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 6 minute walk from Sanjo Station
Date: August 6th – 12th, 2016
Website: Kyoto Kamogawa Festival
#5. Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatoro
The Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatoro festival pays tribute to the mountain of the Higashiyama. The pathway leading to the area is illuminated with over 2,500 lanterns and presents a beautiful experience for tourists. The path then extends towards the Shorenin Temple and the Yasaka Shrine before ending at Kiyomizu-dera Temple. You also get to experience the old city as well. The lighting and the scenery makes it a truly amazing experience.
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Address: Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
5 minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station to Yasaka Shrine
10 minute walk from Kiyomizumichi bus stop (route No. 100, 206 or 207) to Kiyomizu-dera Temple
5 minute walk from Higashiyama Station to Shorenin Temple
Hours: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM
Illumination Period: March 3 – March 12, 2017
Website: Higashiyama Hanatoro (Japanese)
#6. Kyoto Tanabata Festival
The Kyoto Tanabata Festival is based on the folk tale of two lovers Hikoboshi (Altair star) and Orihime (Vega star) who got separated due to the advent of a river of star (Milky Way). On July 7th, the Kyotoites celebrate their union as they are only allowed to meet once a year on that night and fulfill their love. The origin of this festival is Chinese and it found its way into Japan. Now, it is not only celebrated on that day but all of the month but the major happening is on July 7th.
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Kyoto Tanabata Festival
Address: Nijojocho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 2 minute walk from Nijo-mae Station
Date: August 6th – 12th, 2016
Website: Kyoto Tanabata Festival
#7. Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatoro
The Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatoro is one of the festivals from the winter period during the early days of December. In this, the assets of the Arashiyama region are well-lit and displayed. A pathway of approximately 5 kilometers is prepared and has beautiful flower arrangements that above all show Japanese sentiments with it! Open air lanterns, the coming of winter, and the lanterns make it a really amazing event to attend.
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Address: Arashiyama, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Access: 5 minute walk from Arashiyama Station
Hours: 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Illumination Period: December 9 – December 18, 2016
Website: Arashiyama Hanatoro (Japanese)
#8. Jidai Festival
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The Jidai Festival is a great festival and is one of the top three in Kyoto along with the previously mentioned Aoi Festival. It can be called a run-down of the history of Japan and how it shaped over the centuries. The event alone is spread over 2 kilometers and various groups parade the rich culture for the audience to see. The history of Kyoto is especially shared over here. You can get the fliers and learn a lot as well.
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Address: 97 Okazaki Nishi-tennocho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
Access: 10 minute walk from Higashiyama Station
Date: October 22th
Hours: 7:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Admission Fee: Free
*Paid seating: 2,050 yen
Website: Heian Jingu Shrine (Japanese)
#9. Kameoka Peace Festival
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The Kameoka Peace Festival is a fireworks festival to mark peace and prosperity in the region. The types of fireworks on display are just amazing to see. There are diagonal ones that are unique to this place and the “specialty balls” as well. It is a mesmerizing experience to see all the fireworks simultaneously take off and the celebrations that follow. The display occurs at the dry bed of the river of Hozu. It is held around August 7th each year.
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Kameoka Peace Festival
Address: Rokujoguchi, Hozucho, Kameoka City, Kyoto Prefecture
Access: 15 minute walk from Kameoka Station
Date: October 7th, 2016
Website: Kameoka Peace Festival (Japanese)