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It’s a Festive Start to Autumn! Kyoto Bucket List, Moon-Viewing, Fire Festivals, Autumn Leaves

September 4, 2019 Visit North Asia No Comments Email Email

The Kyoto checklist: 15 things you absolutely must do in Kyoto

Packed with so much to see/do/taste/try/fall in love with, it’s hard narrowing the Kyoto must-do’s down to 15 but our friends at JNTO did a fabulous job at doing so. From sake sampling to temple hopping, here are the 15 things you absolutely must do in Kyoto in order to get the ‘full experience’ and keep those nasty feelings of missing out safely at bay.


Kurama Fire Festival

The Kurama Fire Festival is now one of Kyoto’s most popular fire festivals held in the quaint small town of Kurama on the 22nd October every year and serves as a tribute to the Yuki Shrine and its spirits. Village men carry huge flaming torches through the narrow streets of the mountain village and locals display family possessions, like samurai armors, in their windows. A unique combination of fire lightings, processions and fire-based ceremonies and traditions make this a must-do experience for anyone travelling to Kyoto in October.

When: 22 October 2019
Where: 1073 Kuramahon-machi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu (just outside of Kurama station

Jidai Matsuri – Festival of the Ages

Step back in time at one of Kyoto’s biggest and most exciting festivals as the city’s streets are about to transform into a real-life showcase of Japanese history bringing to life the old days of Japan in a unique celebration of history and tradition. The festival procession sees several hundred marchers dressed in exquisite costumes from the various periods of Kyoto history winding their way from the Old Imperial Palace to Heian-jingu Shrine. The best place to watch the parade is just after its departing point as it makes its way through the Imperial Palace park.

When: 26 October 2019
Where: Route: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Karasuma Oike, Heian Jingu Shrine
Admission Fee: Ticket prices for paid viewing seats may vary depending on where the purchase is made.

Free Opening of the Shrine Gardens at Heian-jingu Shrine

It may be one of Kyoto’s most iconic and popular sights and yet few people know the gardens that lie behind the main hall of the shrine are just as spectacular of a sight. It has become custom to open the Heian-jingu Shrine gardens for free once every year to commemorate the anniversary of their establishment. In autumn, seven well-known autumnal flowers can be seen during their peak bloom here, including Japanese bush clover.

When: 19 September 2019
Where: Heian-jingu Shrine
Admission Fee: Free on September 19 (Usual entry fee is 600* yen)

BEST OF: Moon Viewing Events

What better location could there possibly be for full moon viewing than timeless, elegant, romantic Kyoto? Of all the year’s twelve full moons, the harvest moon of September is considered to be the most sublime in Japan. Kyoto offers a plethora of moon viewing experiences with some of its most beautiful shrines and temples holding special events for the occasion. Our top picks are:

Moon-Viewing at Daikaku-ji Temple’s Osawa Pond (13-15 Sep 2019): Moon viewing on the water! Osawa Pond is considered one of the three gratest moon-viewing locations in Japan. Price for adults: ¥500

Moon-Viewing Festival at Kamigamo-jinja Shrine (13 Sep 2019): Rituals will be performed in dedication to the harvest moon followed by a concert and other festival rites.

Moon-Viewing at Shinsen-en Temple (14 Sep 2019): Shinsen-en is a so-called “forbidden garden” (a garden made especially for the emperor) built during the construction of Kyoto as the capital of Japan. Enjoy the unique atmosphere this temple offers as a number of moon-viewing rituals are performed at the temple’s main hall.

Bush Clover Festival

A great way to say hello to autumn, this Japanese bush clover festival is held at a shrine that is even known as the “Bush Clover Shrine.” Some 500 bush clover plants will be blooming within the shrine grounds, all adorned with strips of paper enscribed with poems written by visitors. Following the shrine rituals, a number of traditional arts, including kyogen (traditional comic theater), dance, and “iai” sword-drawing will be performed in the prayer hall.

When: 21-23 September 2019
Where: Nashinoki-jinja Shrine
Admission Fee: ¥800* for tea, ¥1,500* for tea with an autumn-patterned plate (as currently planned)


This is Japan In Kyoto – From The Tokyo Fuji Art Museum Collection

In commemoration of the 2019 Kyoto ICOM (International Conference of Museums) Conference, the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum will be showcasing several pieces of famous Japanese art from its collection of 30,000 pieces. This collection will offer visitors a chance to get to know the richness of Japanese artwork, as well as the pluralistic nature of Japanese history and culture through a diverse display of artworks.

When: 25 Aug-29 Sep 2019
Where: The Museum of Kyoto
Admission Fee: ¥1,200*

ICOM Kyoto Special Exhibition: Masterworks of the Kyoto National Museum: Temple and Shrine Treasures

This exhibition of temple- and shrine-owned masterworks features some of the most exquisite and famous works of art in all of Japan—a veritable textbook of Japanese art treasures. This extraordinarily rare opportunity is being organized in honor of the ICOM (International Council of Museums) General Conference in Kyoto, September 1–7.

When: 14 Aug-16 Sep 2019
Where: Kyoto National Museum
Admission Fee: ¥520*

Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2019 (KYO-MAF)

Manga and animation lovers will once again gather at the Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair”, held every September in the ancient capital of Kyoto. This year it will be held at Miyako Messe and Kyoto International Manga Museum for 2 days on September 21st and 22nd.

When: 21-22 September 2019
Where: Miyako Messe and Kyoto International Manga Museum
Admission Fee: Day tickets starting from ¥800* (at International Manga Museum)

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