TOP 7 Must-See Popular Event in Kyoto December 2017

Most of the foreigners traveling Japan visit Kyoto. From Mid-November to Early December, you can see the natural phenomenon of autumn leaves turning yellow and red. There are many temples that offer special lighting at night so people can enjoy beautiful autumn leaves and the garden. In this article, we will introduce the top spots for autumn leaves.

Events that will Make you Enjoy Nature

1. Kyoto Arashiyama Hanatouro – 8 to 17 December 2017

There is a light up event in Arashiyama. Located in Saga, Arashiyama area, you can enjoy fantastic scenery of water and bamboo forest beautifully illuminated. The open air lantern using LED provided by ROHM gently surrounds the walking path creating warm atmosphere. Another highlight is Ikebana Promenade, which large flower arrangement pieces are displayed under bright lights. The Ikebana event takes place twice; between December 8th – 12th and 13th – 17th, which each of them consists of different programs. The road of bamboo forest following the Okouchi Sanso garden from Nonomiya shrine offers fantastic light up.

From sunset to around 8 PM, special nighttime visits are available at Horinji Temple, Rakushisha, Jojakkoji Temple, Nonomiya Shrine and Hogon-in Temple. Each location has its best spot to enjoy the autumn leaves.

Schedule

・Dates December 8- December 17

・Opening hours 17:00 – 20:30

Access & Address

・Arashiyama

・20 minute-walk from Keifuku Electric Railroad Arashiyama Station

1 hour from Kyoto Station by bus or by train and walking

・Address  Arashiyamagenrokuzan-cho Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

Free.

No need to reserve.

Official Website

http://www.hanatouro.jp/arashiyama/index.html

2. Kitano Tenmangu Autumn Maple Garden – Oct 21 to Dec 3, 2017

Kitano Tenmangu exercises control over the Tenmangu shrines all over Japan. It is called “Kitano-san” or “Tenjin-san” by local people. There are about 250 maple trees offering most spectacular autumn foliage. Maple garden is built in the remains of old odoi (moat), which are the ruins of earthworks created by orders of Toyotomi.Hideyoshi, a well-known general in Japanese history. The view of the autumn leaves from Uguisu Bridge across the Kamiya River running through Kitano Tenmangu is very beautiful. The temple and garden are open for special viewing at night time and holds a light-up until 8PM. As Kitano Tenmangu is strongly associated with Kabuki, you can also see Hono-mai performed by Ebizo Ichikawa.

Schedule

Special Night Time Viewing : October 21 to December 3

Sunset to 20:00

Access & Address

・Kitano Tenmangu

・Take bus from JR Kyoto Station, in front of Kitano Tenmangu Mae bus stop

・40 minutes by bus from JR Kyoto Station

・Access  Bakuro-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

700 yen (includes a cup of green tea and sweets)

Official Website

http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/index.php

3. Tofukuji Temple Special Opening – Nov 1 to Dec 3, 2017

Tofukuji Temple was founded by the great statesman, who is said to have brought back a lot of books from “Song”, the Ancient Chinese State. They are now a valuable property of Tofukuji Temple and Japan. In Tofukuji Temple, paintings and buildings from Kamakura and Muromachi period of around 1100, are preserved as Important Cultural Property. In the Temple, there is also a garden that is cherished. The garden designated as a National Site of Scenic Beauty is opened for a special opening to the public.

You can visit the Tofukuji Temple Honbo garden, Fumon-in garden as well as Tsuten-kyo Bridge to enjoy the beautiful maple autumn leaves 30 minutes earlier than the ordinary open hours. Tofukuji Temple is popular for their colorful maple leaves, but there are also maple trees that have leaves split into three and change to a characteristic golden color. The stunning autumn leaves view from the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which attracts a lot of people is said to be the slowest autumn leaves in Kyoto.

Schedule

・November 1 to December 3  08:30-16:00

Access & Address

・Tofukuji Temple

・10 minute-walk from Tofukuji Station on JR and Keihan Main Line

・15 minutes from Kyoto Station by train (including some walking)

・15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

Adults 400 yen, Children 300 yen

No reservation required

Official Website

http://www.tofukuji.jp/index.html

4. Chion-in Temple Light Up – Nov 3 to Dec 3, 2017


Source: 知恩院 ライトアップ・東山花灯路 2017年度

Chion-in is a Buddhist temple built in the 17th century. Chion-in is a popular and familiar temple to many people. During the special night viewing event, Yuzen-en garden, the Sanmon Gate, Onna-zaka, Hobutsu-den Hall and Daishoro (Great Bell Tower) are beautifully illuminated. The moderate light-up creates a calm and mysterious atmosphere. At the opening event, there is a traditional “Otesugi” (join hands) festival to be held in Hobutsu-den Hall. There, you can enjoy a concert using erhu, a Chinese instrument. It is a joint performance of erhu and synthesizer. The event has other features such as having female evangelist, monks from New Zealand as well as monks preaching using puppets, which are all intended for people to have more of the familiar feelings with the monks. Also, the lectures by the monks are held four times a day.

Schedule

・November 13 to December 3

・17:30-21:30

Access & Address

・8 minute-walk from Higashiyama Station on Tozai Subway Line

・30 minutes from Kyoto Station by train (including some walking)

・Address  400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

Adults 800 yen, Children (Junior and High school students) 400 yen

No reservation required

Official Website

http://www.chion-in.or.jp/10_lightup/2017_aut/

5. Daikakuji Temple Special Night Time Illumination “Shinku-no-Mizukagami” – Nov 10 to Dec 3, 2017 (Expected Schedule)

Daikakuji Temple is one of the oldest temples established about 1200 years ago. It is also known as the origin of Ikebana (flower arrangements) as Daikakuji Temple is the head school of the Sangagoryu school of Ikebana. It is said that it started when the wild chrysanthemums blooming in Osawa pond, the oldest pond for Japanese style garden of Daikakuji Temple located in Kikuga-jima was made into a flower arrangements. During the time of autumn leaves night light-up events, the precincts and around the Osawa pond are illuminated. You can enjoy the colorful leaves shining through the light. You will be also given “Shuin”, a seal stamps exclusive for the events. It is becoming popular among younger people to visit “power spots” and gets these shuin stamps. As daytime and night time visitors shift, attention must be paid to the timing of visiting for the illumination event.

Schedule

・November 10 – December 3

・17:30 – 20:00

Access & Address

・Daikakuji Temple, precinct, Osawa pond

・20 minute-walk from JR Saga-Arashiyama Station

・25 minutes from JR Kyoto Station by train

・4 Saga-Osawa-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

500 yen, Osawa pond 200 yen

Special night time illumination “Shinku-no-Mizukagami” Shuin 500 yen

Official Website

https://www.daikakuji.or.jp/

6. Kiyomizu-dera Temple Special Night Viewing Nov 11 to Dec 3, 2017

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a representative temple of Kyoto. It is Kyoto’s most popular tourist destination. Kiyomizu stage, which hangs over the front of the Main Hall offers impressive view. It is said that the stage was made because the Main Hall was built on a steep cliff. As it stands nearly 13 meters high, you can see the stunning view of the whole city of Kyoto. You can also see the breathtaking autumn leaves spreading under the Kiyomizu stage. The illumination is mainly done around Shin-Takao at Nan-en and

Momijiya at Hoku-en. The symbolic three-storied pagoda of Kiyomizu-dera Temple is lit up beautifully that makes you escape from the ordinary lives.

Before, during the special night viewing period, the gate used to close once at the ordinary closing time and later re-opened due to have preparation time for illumination, but now it is available to stay all through the day.

Since the place gets very crowded, it is recommended to arrive earlier.

Schedule

・November 11 – December 3

・17:30-21:00

Access & Address

・Kiyomizu-dera Temple

・By bus: 10 minute-walk from Gojozaka stop or Kiyomizu-michi stop

・25 minutes from JR Kyoto Station by train (including some walking)

・1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

Adults 400 yen, Junior High and Elementary School children 200 yen

No reservation required

Official Website

http://www.kiyomizudera.or.jp/

Traditional Festival

7. Chion-in Temple New Year’s Eve Bell Ringing -Dec 31, 2017


Source: 知恩院除夜の鐘

In Japan, the year ends on December 31, and the New Year starts the following day on January 1. The bell is rung 108 times to mark the coming of the New Year. This is called “Joya-no-kane”. Chion-in Temple is very popular for its bell ringing. It has also been broadcasted live for many years through NHK, the Japanese national television. This bell ringing method is unique to Chion- in Temple. The bell is rung by 17 monks in one minute intervals. While a monk holds the main rope, the other 16 monks hold the subordinate rope. It is said there are 108 kinds of “bonno” (evil passions and desires) and the monks ring the bell 108 times to get rid of them for the upcoming year. There are about 30,000 people visiting each year to watch the event. The gate opens at 17:00, and you can queue until around 22:30. There is no switching of visitors, but about 300 people can enter the site of event. The gate closes at 5:00 in the morning. Since it is very crowded, it is necessary to wait in line for a long time. It is recommended to take measures against cold.

Schedule

・December 31 Around 20:00-05:00

Access & Address

・8 minute-walk from Higashiyama Station on Tozai Subway Line

・30 minutes from Kyoto Station by train (including some walking)

・Address  400 Rinka-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto

・Map

Admission & Reservation

Free, No reservation required

Official Website

http://www.chion-in.or.jp/index.php

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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.