Kyoto events, Kyoto nightlife, Kyoto night view

Best 6 Traditional Festivals “Matsuri” Guide in Kyoto, August 2017

Kyoto is a tourist city that is popular not only to foreign tourists, but also to Japanese locals. You can view the astonishing streets, temples, shrines and more. Due to the old history of the city, there are many historical festivals that are held in Kyoto. It is a wonderful place to go sightseeing, but how about going on a whole another level by participating in the festivals to enjoy Kyoto even more?

1. Kyoto Gozan’s Fire Festival – 8 / 16

“Gozan’s Fire” is a traditional festival that is especially famous in Japan. It is certain that this festival dates back 1,100 years, but the detailed origins of the festival are uncertain. In the teachings of Buddhism, there is a tradition that states that ancestors come back to this world during the Obon period. The fire is lit up so that these ancestors don’t get lost while coming back.

The shapes of the fire are made up of various kanji such as “大 (large)”, “妙法 (wonderful law)”, and “左大文字 (left facing large)”. There are also fires in the shape of “Torii” from the Japanese shrines, and “Funagata (Ships)”.

The old sayings state that if you drink the water that has the refection of these fires, you will not get sick that year. However, it is difficult to see all five fires. To see all types, going to a high place might be good.

Schedule

2017/8/16(Wed)20:00~
Fires are lit up at 5-minute intervals in the order of “大”, “妙法”, “Funagata”, “左大文字”, “Torii”.

Access & Address

Places to view each fire:
「大文字 (Large)」
Kamogawa (Kamogawa) Near the embankment
Keihan Railway “Imadeichiyanagi (Yamaguchi Nagi)” Immediately after leaving the station

Travel time from Kyoto station 22 minutes

From the Kyoto Municipal Subway “Imadegawa” station, walk to Imadegawa passage and walk east for about 15 minutes.

「妙 (Wonderful)」
Kitayamichi · Notre Dame girls’ school neighborhood
From Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line “Kitayama” station, walk east to Kitayama for about 10 minutes.

Travel time from Kyoto station 15 minutes

「法 (Law)」
Near the Takano River embankment
From Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line “Matsugasaki” station, walk to Kitayama for about 10 minutes to the east.

Travel time from Kyoto station 17 minutes

「船形 (Ship)」
Kitayama
From Kyoto Municipal Subway “Kitayama” station, walk for Kitayama-dori walking west for about 5 minutes.

Travel time from Kyoto station 15 minutes

「左大文字 (Left Large)」
Nishijoji
From Kyoto Municipal Subway “Kitayama” station, walk for Kitayama-dori walking west for about 15 minutes
From Kyoto municipal subway “Kitaoji” station, walk north road street on foot and go west for about 15 minutes

Travel time from Kyoto station 15 minutes

「Torii」
Matsuo Bridge · Hirosawa pond etc.
From Kyoto subway “Maruta-cho” station to the east toward Marutamachi Street about 10 minutes.
It is just a short walk from the Keihan Railway “Jingu Marutacho” station.

Travel time from Kyoto station 7 minutes

Other City Hotel Rooftops

Admission & Reservation

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Kyoto Gozan’s Fire Festival Official Site

2. Kitano Tenmangu’s Ennichi “Tenjin san” – 8 / 25

Kitano Tenmangu is a shrine enshrining the god of learning, “Fujiwara Michizane”. The 25th of every month is called “Tenjin’s Day” and an Ennichi is held. Various booths line up around 6 PM where you can eat many Japanese festival food such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

You can also enjoy various games such as shooting and pinball, and buy traditional Japanese crafts such as kimono and pottery. Buying your trip souvenirs here might be a clever idea. Once the sun sets, lights fill the festival and you can enjoy the fantastic scenery.

Schedule

2017/8/25(Fri)PM6:00~9:00
Light up after sunset to PM9:00

Access & Address

City bus 10, 51, 55, 102, 201, 203 “Kitano Tenman-mae front” get off 5 minutes on foot
Keiukusu Electric Railway “Shiumei-machi (Haku-baibyo)” Station 5 minutes on foot

Travel time from Kyoto station 19 minutes

Kyoto-shi Kamigyo-ku Maki-machi Kitano Tenman-muya Office

Admission & Reservation

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Kitano Tenmangu’s Ennichi “Tenjin san” Official Site

3. Nagaoka Tenmangu Summer Festival – 8 / 25

Nagaoka Tenmangu Summer Festival is held on 8/25 every year and here, you can experience “Chinowa Kuguri” from Japanese Shinto. During the “Chinowa Kuguri”, people go through a ring made of a plant called “kaya”. As part of the ritual, people must first enter the ring from the left foot and pass through to the left, then enter from the right foot and pass through to the right, and finally enter the ring from the left and pass through the left. The order you go pass through should be like the number 8. Legend says that you can spend a healthy year through passing through the rings.

In addition, while going through the rigs you must chant the following: “A person who is going to purify the summer of Minazuki will cast a life of chitose.” The chant means, “one who chants this will live longer”. A bit difficult, but why not give it a try?

Schedule

2017/8/25(Fri)
Afternoon~PM10:00

Access & Address

20 minutes on foot from West Exit of JR “Nagaokakyo” station

Travel time from Kyoto station 11 minutes

Kyoto Prefecture Nagaokakyo-shi Tenjin 2-15-13

Admission & Reservation

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Nagaoka Tenmangu Summer Festival Official Site

4. Saga Tennou Festival – 8 / 27

The Saga Tennou Festival is a festival celebrating “Emperor Saga”. During this festival, sumo wrestling will be held due to Emperor Saga’s love for sumo. The festival sumo will be performed by young kids so it will be exciting for people who watch sumo for the first time as well.

There is also event called “Umezu Rokusai Nenbutsu” where bells and drums play and dances are performed alongside the Buddhist chant, “Nenbutsu”. Another name for this event is “Odori Nenbutsu,” and it is said to have begun in the medieval era of Japan. You will be fascinated by the unique sounds and dances. If you are interested in Japanese Buddhism, this is a must go!

Schedule

2017/8/27(Sun)AM8:30~

Access & Address

A short walk from Hankyu Arashiyama Line “Matsuo Taisha” station
Kyoto city bus “Matsuo Taisha” from the front just a short walk

Travel time from Kyoto station 21 minutes

Kyoto Prefecture Kyoto-shi Uki-ku Umezu Fukakeno-cho 30

Admission & Reservation

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Saga Tennou Festival Official Site

5. Toujimantoue Houyo – 8 / 15

During the Toujimantoue Houyo, the “Koushu Ondo” is held for the “Kouboudaishi” who made the shrine. This dance is famous not only in Kyoto, but also in the entire Kinki area. It is said to have begun in the Edo era, it has ever since been an event loved by the locals. During the dance, people wearing yukata chant, “Yoito, Yoitoyama, Dokoisise”, “Deron, Deron”.

Yukata is a Japanese kimono for the summer. Dancing is fun, but also just chanting the calls is fun too so don’t be afraid to jump in! There are also many booths that sell food and goods. You can enjoy plenty of Japanese summer feels through these yukata and food booths.

Schedule

2017/8/15(Tues)PM6:00~9:00

Access & Address

15 minutes on foot from JR “Kyoto” station
10 minutes on foot from the Kintetsu “Kintetsu Toji” station

1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi

Admission & Reservation

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Toujimantoue Houyo Official Site

6. Koubou san – 8 / 21

“Koubouichi” is held on the 21st of every month at the “Toji temple” near Kyoto Station. Koubou is from “Koubou Daishi” or otherwise known as “Kukai”, and he was a famous high priest of Buddhism who gained great faith from long ago in Japan. Hence, the “san” follows Koubou’s name and is familiarized by many as “Koubou-san”.

The market is called “Kottouchi (Antique Shop)” and “Nunoichi (Clothes Shop)”. There are over 1000 stalls lined with pottery and clothes. Many Japanese ceramics,clothes and cloth for kimono are sold, so buying souvenirs here is a must!

Schedule

2017/8/21(Mon)AM8:30~PM5:30

Access & Address

15 minutes on foot from JR “Kyoto” station
10 minutes on foot from the Kintetsu “Kintetsu Toji” station

1 Kuji-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto

Admission & Price

Free Admission

No reservations needed

Official Site

Koubou san Official Site

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About Shoto Hachiya

Hello, my name is Shoto! I’ve lived in and traveled many countries. Through the experiences, I saw a lot of different cultures and customs, and that made me realize how unique Japanese culture is.