The Best Kyoto Festivals to Visit in 2017 | FAST JAPAN
The Best Kyoto Festivals to Visit in 2017
Kyoto

The Best Kyoto Festivals to Visit in 2017

2017 is a great time to check out Japanese festivals in Kyoto. Full of color and fun these traditional events will fill your heart with Joy, but be sure to bring your camera.

Traditional Japanese Festivals in Kyoto, Japan

Traditional Japanese Festivals in Kyoto, Japan

This year is starting off strong and now is the time to plan for the many upcoming festivals in Kyoto. Not only is there a great number of events to check out but they are also nicely spread out throughout the year. Check out these festivals and make sure to write them into your calendars for 2017.

 

Aoi Matsuri – May

Aoi Matsuri

The Aoi Matsuri, like the Gion and Jidai festivals, is one of the most famous in Japan as well as one of the most important in Kyoto. The Aoi festival is small in scale but big in reputation as it takes place at the Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto city on the May 15th. During the Aoi festival you’ll be able to see mounted archery demonstrations, horse racing and many religious ceremonies. One of the must sees of the Aoi Matsuri is the main procession where about 500 people from the Imperial Palace travel to the Shimogamo Shrine dressed in 8th century clothing.
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Aoi Matsuri

Dates: May 15th

Address: 59 Shimogamo Izumigawa, Sakyo, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 15 minute walk from Demachiyanagi Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kyoto City Website

 

Gion Matsuri – July

Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

One of the oldest and arguably the most popular festivals in Japan is the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto city. The Gion festival was created in 869 as a means to purify Kyoto and ward away any ill spirits that might bring problems to the city like earthquakes or disease. This huge festival runs through the entire month of July but the most important days are July 17th and July 24th when visitors can see processions of floats and very tall, colorful carriages filled with people and decorations as the Mikoshi is carried along with them. The Gion festival takes place around the Gion district of the city and ends at the Yasaka shrine.
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Gion Matsuri

Dates: July 1st – 31st

Address: 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 15 minute walk from Gion-Shijo Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kyoto Visitors Guide

 

Kyoto Gozan Okuribi – August

Kyoto Gozan Okuribi - August

Also known as Daimonji, this Kyoto festival is at the end of Obon in mid august. Enormous bonfires are lit around Kyoto in the mountains nearby as this Kyoto festival seeks to celebrate the spirits of returning family and loved ones during Obon. Each fire is lit within a specific amount of time between each other to spell out Daimonjiyama! The Kyoto Gozan-Okuribi festival takes place on the night of August 16th around 8 pm with each fire lasting around a half an hour. Locations are spread throughout the city so make sure you take the time to be there for this historic Kyoto summer event.
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Kyoto Gozan-Okuribi

Address: Daimonjiyama, Shishigatani Shobudanicho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto

Access: 35 minute walk from Mototakana Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kyoto Gozan-Okuribi (Japanese)

 

Uji Fireworks Festival – August

Uji Fireworks Festival - August

One of the best things about summer is being able to sit on the grass and share a moment with the your friends and family. If you make your way to Uji, about 30 minutes away from Kyoto city, you will be able to share an experience like that at Uji’s fireworks festival. Set above the Uji river, the mixture of explosions of light and their reflection on the water makes this mid-summer night an absolutely breathtaking experience. Make sure to bring your cameras because Japanese firework festivals are great events for photography.
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Uji Hanabi

Dates: Early August

Address: 7-13, Uji-Otsukata, Uji, Kyoto Prefecture

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Uji Hanabi (Japanese)

 

Kurama no Hi Matsuri – October

Kurama no Hi Matsuri

If you are willing to travel a little bit outside of Kyoto city, roughly an hour from the center, make your way to the village of Kurama North of the city. During late October there is an absolutely charming festival where the phrase ‘do not play with fire’ is fairly ignored. The Kurama no Hi festival is supervised with children carrying small torches and adults carry the bigger ones. The Kurama no Hi festival is considered one of the big three Kyoto festivals that you should definitely not miss!
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Kurama no Hi Matsuri

Dates: October 22nd

Address: 1073 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 10 minute walk from from Kurama Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kyoto Travel

 

Jidai Festival – October

Jidai Festival - October

The Jidai Matsuri takes place near the end of October right alongside the night time Kurama no Hi Matsuri. If you are in Kyoto this should be high on your list for events to make it to as the Jidai Matsuri is one of the most famous Japanese festivals and much like the Aoi Matsuri and Gion Matsuri, you’ll follow along with large groups carrying a Mikoshi through the city. The Jidai Matsuri starts around noon with over two thousand classically dressed people making a two hour walk from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Heian Jingu Shrine. If you ever wanted to see a real life Samurai, now is your chance as they’ll be riding along side the Mikoshi on horseback. If you are looking for a great time to come to Japan and visit Kyoto, October is a great time. Not only will you see the amazing autumn leaves here but you’ll be able to take part in this historic Kyoto festival.
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Jidai Matsuri

Dates: October 22nd

Address: 97, Nishi-Tenno, Okazaki, Sakyo, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 10 Minute walk from Higashiyama Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kyoto Travel

 

Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine New Year’s Festival – January

Fushimi Inari Taisha Festival

Another amazing Kyoto festival is the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine’s New Year’s Festival! This shrine is one of the most famous places in Japan as it boasts an enormous amount of tori gates that run through the mountains south of Kyoto. During the New Year’s festivities you’ll be able to ring the bell with locals and drink warm sake for free. Many people come here for the New Year so please be mindful of the traditions and be respectful to other who want to celebrate along with you.
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Fushimi Inari Taisha

Dates: January 1st – 3rd

Address: 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 3 minute walk from Inari Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Fushimi Inari Taisha

 

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine New Year’s Festival – January

Kitano Tenmangu Festival

The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine was built over 1000 years ago in Kyoto Japan and many people visit it each year to pray and experience the surrounding area. The Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is famous for academics as many students visit here each year to pray for exam scores and help with school. Every month on the 25th there is a street market festival as well. The main event is the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine New Year’s festival where much like the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, people gather to pray and enjoy the new year by ringing the bell and having their fortune told on paper. If you are in Kyoto for new years this might be the best place to experience a traditional new year’s event.
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Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Dates: January 1st – 3rd

Address: Bakurocho, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture

Access: 11 minute walk from Kitanohakubaicho Station

Admission Fee: Free

Website: Kitano Tenmangu Shrine Official Site

 

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