About us

Kyoto City Tourism Associaion

sp_dotline.gif Kyorec_bnr.gif Japan. Endless Discovery. Kyoto Travel Guide bnr_119_eng2.gif ns-en-bnr.gif

Lively Kyoto

Mifune Matsuri Festival
Held in Arashiyama, a mountain area where Heian nobles would often visit for leisure, Mifune Matsuri Festival comes from the legend of Emperor Shirakawa's Three Boats, set afloat on Oi River to hold performances of traditional waka poetry, Imperial gagaku music, and ancient dance. The festival procession departs from Kurumazaki Shrine and then crosses Togetsu Bridge, where following a Shinto ritual, thirty boats including the Ryutosen and Gekishsen are let into the river. The festival is popular for its elegant recreations of ancient nobles; with women in Heian era costume floating fans ceremoniously into the river, orchestral music playing, and the traditional Butterfly Dance being offered to the gods, it's like a scene taken straight from an ancient scroll.

Aoi Matsuri Festival
Aoi Matsuri Festival represents a proud legacy with 1,300 years of history. The festival originated long ago when, in an attempt to stop a recent series of storms, flood damage, and harvest failure, the then-Emperor sent a messenger to the two Kamo Shrines to appease the wrath of the gods. The present departing point of the festival at Kyoto Imperial Palace (Gosho) had been used as a residence for the successive Emperors until this place was transferred to Tokyo in the latter part of the 16th century. The park that exists here today was created out of the remains of noblemen's residences surrounding the Palace. The festival procession departs from the Imperial Palace and proceeds to Kamigamo Shrine via Shimogamo Shrine.

This first-ever aquarium in Kyoto is designed to be an urban-style, nestled in a corner of Umekoji Park west of Kyoto Station. The aquarium borrows its scenery from the five-story pagoda of Toji Temple and the shapes of passing bullet trains; within the building grows an arrangement of Kyoto trees, giving the space a natural environment. Exhibitions include Kyoto river inhabitants--such as the giant salamander, designated as a protected species--and a gigantic aquarium where people are able to closely observe marine species from seven different viewing spots.

~Open Top Sky Bus~
This is a Kyoto Excursion Bus in which an attendant will guide you around the city in a fun manner. Through the window of this open style bus, a panoramic refreshing view can be enjoyed. One course is an hour course which starts from Kyoto Station and goes around Nishi-Hongan-ji Temple, Nijo Castle, the giant torii gate of Heian Jingu Shrine and reaches to Kyoto National Museum. Another is a 3.5 hour course which goes to Kinkaku-ji Temple and Kiyomizu Temple and strolling around at these 2 temples is available.

〝Mibu Dainenbutsu Kyogen" ~ Horakuwari (Plate Breaking) ・Tsuchigumo (The Demon Spider)~
Mibu Kyogen is said to have originally started during the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to make the Buddhist chants easier to understand in a non-verbal style play. About 30 plays have been preserved and inherited since then, but especially the one with "Horakuwari (Plate Breaking)," which highly piled up unglazed ceramic plates are brought down and smashed to the ground and a play called "Tsuchigumo (The Demon Spider)," which the thread of a spider made with traditional Japanese washi paper is thrown are quite popular. The plays receive great cheers from audiences each year.

Toei Kyoto Studio Park
Toei Kyoto Studio Park is a theme park centered on an open set used for filming Jidai-geki (samurai historical plays) and is located where Japanese film was born. Here, various kinds of events including a filming tour, back-stage-tour of filming, a special sword fight performance and experience, Ninja training, costume play corner, street performance and exhibition of anime heroes...are held each day. The bustling town of the Edo period (1600-1868) is recreated at the park.

SAMURAI KEMBU THEATER in KYOTO The Japanese Traditional Swordplay & Performance
In the old days, before a fight, samurai are said to perform a special kind of dance as to concentrate or to inspire themselves using swords or folding fans. "Samurai Kembu" is a traditional art form which shows the samurai spirit in present day. At the Samurai Kembu Theater, viewing a special dance performance, learning how to use a sword, seeing how samurai move and having a makeover experience can also be enjoyed.

Green Maple Leaves of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine's Odoi Mound
The odoi mound located just next to the Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine was built in the 16th century, which was made to surround the city of Kyoto, is leaving traces of the past and is also famous for its autumn leaves. In May, this place will be open to the public. This is a special time of year when about 250 trees with their new green leaves reflect on the surface of the water to create a beautiful scene.

Authentic Tea Ceremony Experience in Kyoto
The numbers of foreign tourists who experience tea ceremony in Kyoto is increasing. At Joukei-an, a traditional machiya house close to Higashiyama's Sennyu-ji Temple, visitors are able to experience the authentic welcoming spirit of tea ceremony through various courses, starting from just being able to savor a cup of tea to participating in a formal tea ceremony.

Kyoto Hands on Class for Tourists -Ikebana & Japanese Cuisine-
In Kyoto, there are many facilities where people can enjoy experiencing Japanese culture in a relaxing mood, and these courses are popular among foreign tourists. At the "WA Experience KAFU" located near Heian Jingu Shrine, visitors are able to experience an Ikebana flower arrangement class and a Japanese cuisine class with English guidance in an 80-year old traditional machiya house.

Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro -2014 (test lighting for press)
The test lighting of Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro was held which is to light up Kyoto's Arashiyama area with lights and about 2,500 street lanterns. The 2014 Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro commemorates its 10th anniversary year and is held for 10 days from Friday December 12th, through Sunday December 21st.

Beautiful Fallen Leaves on the Ground of Yamashina's Bishamondo Temple
Bishamondo Temple in Yamashina is an old temple which has a high-class noble atmosphere and also a rustic mountain temple's mood. It is located on a hillside where you can look down to the Yamashina basin. The temple is renowned for cherry blossoms in spring, maple leaves in autumn, and especially the view of bedded-fall leaves on the approach in late autumn. Absolutely spectacular.
(Video shooting date: November 20th, 28th of 2014)

Approach to "Aono Komyoji Temple" with brilliant maple leaves
One of the head temples, Komyoji Temple is located at the foot of the Nishiyama mountain of Nagaoka-kyo, and because of its location, it is also called as "Aono Komyoji." In the precinct, there are about 500 trees, and one of the maple trees is about 150 years old. The approach between the main gate and the Yakui-mon gate has trees that are growing just like a tunnel and its called the "maple leaf approach."
(Video shooting date: November 28th, 2014)

Jikishi-an Temple's fall foliage in Kita-saga area,northwest of Kyoto
November 2014

Jikishi-an Temple, surrounded by bamboo forests is located in the north-part of the Saga area. Their autumn leaves around the thatched-roof main hall exhibits exceptional beauty. In the quaint atmosphere of this temple, visitors are able to feel relaxed from deep within from the whispering sounds made by the bamboo and leaves, pierced by the lovely sounds of singing birds.

"Momiji (Maple Tree) Tunnel" Taking a ride on Eizan Railway "Kirara"
November 2014

The Eizan Railway that runs in the city's northern part has a "Momiji (maple tree) Tunnel," which is located between Ichihara Station and Ninose Station. Both sides of the tracks are covered by maple leaves. Passengers are able to enjoy the red colored autumn leaves from the train windows. From evening, the light-up will be held along the track and autumn leaves will loom out gorgeously from the darkness as the train slows down and the room lights are lowered.
(Video shooting date: November 20th, 2014)

Fall Foliage at Enkoji Temple in northern Kyoto
November 2014

Enkoji Temple located in the Ichijo-ji area in Rakuhoku is one of the most popular autumn leaf viewing spots. Start your stroll from the Karesansui (dry landscape rock garden) called "Honryu-tei," and pass the middle gates, where you will reach Chisen Kaiyu-shiki (a stroll garden with a pond garden) named "Jugyu-no-niwa". Here, the stones express the child of bull running, and visitors are able to enjoy the changing autumn leaves gradation from green to yellow and also red. The temple's piles of fallen leaves on the moss garden shows great beautiful scenery as well. Visitors are able to enjoy the autumn day to the fullest here with views from the Japanese veranda while strolling around the Seiryu-chi pond.
(Video shooting date: November 20th, 2014)

Kamigamo Shrine:World Heritage
This is one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto that keeps many elements from its original construction in 678. Between the Ichi no torii (outer torii gateway) and Ni no tori (inner tori gateway), there is a vast lawn, and Japanese cedar trees at the back creating a solemn atmosphere. Many of the pavilions were built in 1628, and 41 pavilions are designated to important cultural properties. In front of the Hosodono (narrow corridor), there are two sand beds made in pyramid-like shapes to imitate the "Mountains of Deities" where deities are said to have descended. The main hall designated as a national treasure, is now in the process of a roof renewal in preparation for the Shikinen Sengu which is scheduled to be held in October, 2015, for the first time in 21 years. At the moment, the shrine deity has been removed to the Gonden-hall which is also designated as a national treasure.

Jidai Matsuri Festival 2014
One of Kyoto's three main festivals, the Jidai Matsuri Festival is held on October 22nd every year. On this day, despite the rainfall during the festival, many visitors from home and abroad gathered at the Kyoto Imperial Palace and enjoyed watching the roughly 2-km authentic historical procession led by about 2,000 people. The procession can be called a miniature version of Japanese history that travels back from the Meiji Restoration to the Heian period and recalls 1,200 years of Kyoto's history.
Here is the long version↓

Shimogamo Shrine:World Heritage
This is also one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto which is called "Kamo-sha," along with Kamigamo Shrine. At the back of the dense forest of Tadasu-no-mori, there is a main hall designated as a national treasure and 53 shrine pavilions designated as an important cultural properties lined in an orderly manner which carry on the atmosphere of the Heian period to our time. The main hall designated as a national treasure, is now in the process of a roof renewal in preparation for the Shikinen Sengu which is scheduled to be held in April, 2015, for the first time in 21 years.

Shimogamo Shrine Meigetsu-kangen-sai: Harvest Moon Viewing Festival
On the Autumn Harvest Moon night, the moon viewing music festival was held at the world heritage site of Shimogamo Shrine which is surrounded by the Tadasu forest.
In the solemn and visional atmosphere, traditional music and dance and a Kagura dance dedicated to the deities were performed one after another. Many of the audience enjoyed watching them along with the accompaniment of the moon.

Kamigamo Shrine Choyo Karasu-Sumo Wrestling dedicating crysanthemun festival
On the September 9th of Choyo no Sekku, the Choyo Ceremony and Karasu Sumo Wrestling were held, which are the ceremonies to pray for a good harvest and long life at the world heritage site of Kamigamo Shrine.
Karasu Sumo Wrestling originated from an old myth, imitating the peculiar song of a bird by a Shinto priest and the sumo wrestling played by children creating an interesting scene. This annual event pleases audiences so they can enjoy the festival with joy.

~Gion Matsuri Latter Festival~
The Parade of Ofune-hoko
On July, 2014, the Ofune-hoko which came back after 150 years finally marked the procession day. The Ofune-hoko which was located on the narrow Shinmachi Street until then, appeared onto the big street, and was exhibited to all the people watching in awe along with its elegant Gion Bayashi music during the procession itself and the wild Tsuji-mawashi in the midst of the cicada's songs.

~Gion Matsuri Latter Festival~
Ofune-hoko's Yoiyama (the night before the parade)
The Ofune-hoko which was revived after 150 years had its Yoiyama held on July 23rd, 2014. The Gion Bayashi music played, and the songs by the charm-selling children added an exotic taste to the festival. The Hiyori Kagura event, which is to pray for fine weather and overall safety during the festival was held as well.

~Gion Matsuri Latter Festival~
Ofune-hoko: building Up Floats or "Hokotate" & Practice Run for the Pulling Known as "Hikizome"
In 1864, during the end of Edo period, the Ofune-hoko was burnt down in the big Hamaguri Gomon fire. This Ofune-hoko was rebuilt and returned in welcomed grandeur in July, 2014 after a 150 year absence. The hokotate was held on July 17th, and at a ceremony held on the 20th, the governor of Kyoto Prefecture, mayor of Kyoto City and the head priest of Yasaka Shrine attended and celebrated for the revival. Next was the Hikizome, which is the practice run for the pulling that all people could attend, and a lot of citizens, old and young, pulled the rope.

The Art of Kyoto's Craftsmanship - Nishiki-Ori: Nishiki Weaving-
Tatsumura Koho, a weaving artist has been making a woven art of "Nishiki," which cannot be found in the world and is only particular in Japanese culture. Visitors are able to experience this Nishiki weaving's beauty and style at the studio.

Tatsumura Koho Nishiki Weaving Studio

The Art of Kyoto's Craftsmanship - Miyaeshi, Special painter for Temple and Shrines-
Miyaeshi is a special kind of painter who decorates temples and shrines with various color. Making a visit to the studio of the Miyaeshi, Mr. Nyofu.Yasukawa. At the moment, he is painting the sliding doors of Daien-in Temple in Koyasan. In the meanwhile, he is also working at illumination painting which is to blend a traditional painting and LED.

Miyaeshi Yasukawa Nakamachi Kobo (Studio)

The Art of Kyoto's Craftsmanship - Kyoyaki & Kiyomizuyaki: Kyoto Pottery-
Kyoyaki and Kiyomizuyaki Pottery, they have characteristics of being sophisticated and elegant. Unrakugama has been in business for more than 100 years. The shop shows their pottery process to visitors so they can know and becoming familiar with the goodness of pottery to get in touch with and feel the beauty that is made by hands of craftsmen.

Kyoto Unrakugama

The Art of Kyoto's Craftsmanship - Kyoto Folding Fan-
The Kyoto folding fan is still commonly used and also popular for both as an accessory and a daily use. There are about 21 steps in the process of their craftwork. Making a visit to the traditional shop "Kyosendo," established in 1832 to learn about their master craftsmanship.

Kyosendo Kyoto main shop

Aoi Festival
This year, on May 15th, the annual Aoi Festival was held and the procession of people wearing the Heian-period costumes departed the Kyoto Imperial Palace, head to Shimogamo Shrine then went to Kamigamo Shrine.
At the Shimogamo Shrine, the viewing seat were placed and a lot of visitors enjoyed watching this elegant festival filled with classic atmosphere.

Green maple leaves of Rengeji Temple in northern part of Kyoto
Early summer is especially beautiful in Kyoto when the maple leaves have a lush green color.
The Rengeji garden, has a pond which receives water from the Takano river and sits elegantly in the center surrounded by the greenery of maple trees. The surrounding is covered with moss.
This is a superb garden making the most of nature with a relaxing atmosphere.

Murin-an's picturesque garden in early summer
The Murin-an was the villa of Yamagata Aritomo, a prominent statesman of the Meiji era. This is the only villa that is open to the public amongst other villas of that age in the Nanzen-ji area. The garden is constructed by the gardener Ogawa Jihei, having the Higashiyama Mountains as its backdrop. There is a lawn around the pond that receives water from the Biwako Sosui (canal). This place shows visitors its utmost beauty during the greenery time of early summer.

Greenery maple leaves of Hogon-in Temple in Arashiyama
The Hogon-in Temple, a sub temple of Tenryuji Temple, its stroll around garden uses the Arashiyama Mountains as its backdrop. Here, especially maple leaves and moss are beautiful and the garden is open to the public during the early summer and autumn time.
2014 Spring Opening Period: Mar. 21 to June 30
2014 Autumn Opening Period: Mid-Sep. to mid-Dec.

The Cherry Blossoms in Rakuto Area in Kyoto
Walking on a clear day in April, when the cherry blossoms are blooming here and there in the city, from the Path of the Philosophy to Okazaki, then to Keage to enjoy the view of cherry trees. Having walked, it is obvious that the all places have a connection with Biwako. The stream along the Path of Philosophy, the Shin-en pond at the Heian Jingu Shrine and the Okazaki canal where the Jukkoku-bune Boat Ride operate the river tours. The water at these places are all coming from Biwako. The Incline (Railway) was also used as the cargo shipment for transportation between Biwako.

Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatouro 2014
Every year, for about 10 days from mid to end of the March, the "Higashiyama Hanatouro" which is to lit-up and decorate the 5-km route of the Higashiyama area in Kyoto by lanterns and flower arrangements will be held.
Shrines and temples around the area will also light up their garden and buildings during the period and tourists enjoy the spring night stroll.
In 2014, the event flourished and attracted over a million tourists.

Wandering out Arashiyama in fall
Kyoto's Saga Arashiyama area was damaged by the #18 typhoon on September 16, 2013. In order to repair the damage, strenuous efforts were made by the local residents and volunteers from all over the country. Currently tourism facilities are all functional and able to be enjoyed by tourists. Beautiful scenery uploaded here was taken on a weekday of early October.