Kyoto is not just a city which is known for its ancient temples and shrines, but this place is also famous for its traditional festivals which takes place throughout the year. These festivals are passed on after generation to generation and till date these festivals are celebrated with much grandeur. These festivals are spread across throughout the four seasons and every month gives a different vibe which is cherished by the locals and tourists. If you’re planning a getaway to this beautiful city of Japan, then make sure to miss out the Kyoto festivals which are worth experiencing.
6 Kyoto Festivals One Must Witness
Here are some of the best festivals which one must celebrate while on their trip and have a great time experiencing and learning the heritage and history of the place.
1. Gion Festival
The Gion Matsuri festival in Kyoto is one of the biggest annual festival which is celebrated with much grandeur. This multiday festival is a racous street celebration which also reflects the religious observance. Initially the festival came into existence to pray for the deliverance from plague, but this festival hugely reflects the culture of Kyoto. In the present day, this festival a grand summer block party where the locals along with tourists gather around the streets wearing colorful yukata robes and tasting the delicious street food and beer.
Dates of the festival – 1st July – 31st July
Highlights of the festival
- There is a three days preceding the parades at the Yoiyama streets.
- The family heirlooms are displayed at the Byobu Matsuri
- Taking a glimpse of the giant floats
2. Jidai Festival
Followed by the Gion festival, comes the Jidai Matsuri festival in Kyoto or the “Festival of ages”, which is one of the most recommended festivals celebrated in Kyoto. There is a long parade which takes place from the Imperial palace and ends at the Heian Shrine commemorating the anniversary of foundation of Kyoto. The participants of the festival are dressed to showcase the period of Japanese history and famous historical figures.
Date of the festival – 26 October, 2019
3. Arashiyama Momiji Festival
The Arashiyama Momiji Festival is a colorful autumn festival which is celebrated in the Arashiyama district of Kyoto. This district is located at the western outskirts of Kyoto which is known for its ancient and traditional temples and shrines. The main highlight of the place is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove which simply looks like a blissful sight during the autumn as the sun peeps through the bamboos. This festival is celebrated on the second Sunday of November with much vibrance and grandeur.
Date of the festival – Sunday, November 8
Timings: 10:30AM-12PM/ 1PM-3:30PM
Location: Arashiyama, Kyoto
Highlights of the festival
- Colorful autumn leaves
- Performers dressed in traditional Heian Period costumes
- Traditional dance, music and art performances
- Re-enactment of the nobles cruise down over the Oi river in small boats
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4. Setsubun Festival
Setsubun Festival is an annual celebartion which commerates the onset of spring and celebrated in the first week of February. This is not a national holiday, but this festival is celebrated with much grandeur especially among the children. The entire day is filled with throwing and eating beans and making all the efforts to sway away the evil to welcome good fortune. This traditional festival was started centuries ago, but the tradition of throwing beans started during the Muromachi period (1337-1573). The beans are the symbol of purity and drive away the evil spirits which brings misfortune.
Date of the festival: Sunday, February 3, 2019
Timings: 2:30 p.m – 5:15 p.m
Location: Sensoji Temple, 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
5. Minato Maizuru Chatta Festival
This extravagant festival is one of the most famous Kyoto summer festivals which takes place on the last Saturday and Sunday in July. The fireworks is an impressive way to end the final night which has now become an annual tradition. This view can be enjoyed by sitting alongside the beach while the fireworks are launched from the ship. The festival also includes a procession of local dances.
Date of the festival: July 27th & 28th, 2019
6. Ouka Festival
Ouka festival is a beautiful spring celebration which can be witnessed at the Hirano Shrine every year on April 10th. In the middle of the Heian period, emperor Hanayama had planted thousands of cherry trees which surrounds the Hirano Shrine. This place is perfect to take a glimpse at the beautiful cherry blossoms blooming in spring. In the present day, there are around 400 cherry trees of around 50 different species.
Date of the festival: April 10th
Location: 1, Hirano-Miyamoto-Cho, Kita-Ku, Kyoto-shi
Are you excited enough to indulge into a journey where you can learn about the culture of Kyoto and also celebrate the festivities? If yes, then here are some of the best festivals which rounds throughout the year which brings out all the good vibes and let the visitors experience a celebration time while on a vacation to Japan.
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