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Kyoto Events

Miyako Odori (Cherry Blossom Dances)

The geisha and maiko (apprentices) of the Gion Kobu district still perform traditional spring dances with live musical accompaniment. Taking place throughout April each year, these highly popular performances celebrate the coming of the cherry blossom season.

Date: 01 April 2021 - 20 April 2021
Venue: Minamiza Theater


Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival)

The festival's main event features a procession of beautifully outfitted ox drawn carts accompanied by hundreds of people in Heian-period dress. Leaving the Old Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gosho) in the morning, the procession winds its way north, stopping around noon at Shimogamo Shrine and then heading on to arrive late in the afternoon at the Kamigamo Shrine. The Hollyhock festival is one of Kyoto's three major annual events. It dates back to the sixth century, when the hollyhock was believed to have the power to ward off lightning and earthquakes.

Date: 15 May 2021 - 15 May 2021
Venue: Kyoto Imperial Palace to Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines.

Free except for spectator seats.

Mifune Matsuri (Boating Festival)

Kyoto’s Boating Festival is an annual re-enactment on the Oi River of an imperial boating party held in the Heian period when Kyoto first became the capital of Japan. Two dozen boats loaded with courtiers, Noh actors, musicians and dancers take part in the spectacular event. It's worth arriving early to see the participants proceeding from Kurumazaki Shrine down to the river in their gorgeous costumes. Visitors can watch the event on Arashiyama's famous Togetsu Bridge or from the broad banks of the river, but for a closer view it's worth hiring a rowing boat or booking a seat on a sightseeing barge.

Date: 16 May 2021 - 16 May 2021
Venue: Arashiyama


Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival)

Japan's most famous festival takes place in downtown Kyoto, lasts for a month and includes two processions of parade floats on 17th and 24th respectively. Prior to each main float procession, there are three nights of street parties taking place.

Date: 01 July 2021 - 31 July 2021
Venue: Yasaka Shrine and Shijo-dori area.

Free except for spectator seats.

Daimonji Gozan Okuribi (Bonfire Festival)

Massive bonfires in the shape of Chinese characters and other forms are lit on five hills surrounding Kyoto, to bid farewell the ancestral spirits. The largest is in northeastern Kyoto and can be seen from all over the city when it gets dark. Also called Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto’s bonfires are associated with the Buddhist summer festival of Obon, which is celebrated throughout Japan.

Date: 16 August 2021 - 16 August 2021
Venue: Hills around Kyoto.


Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)

Kyoto's Jidai Matsuri is a glorious opportunity to see the history of the country brought to life. Some 2,000 people wear authentic costumes from each period in Japanese history and walk in a 3.2km-long (2 miles) parade. The festival only began in 1895, but it commemorates Kyoto's position as the capital of Japan and residence of successive emperors from 781 to 1868. The procession is led by a band impersonating the fife and drum corps of the Meiji Restoration Royal Army and takes spectators from the grandeur of the Meiji era, through the fierce samurai and elegant geisha of the shogunate, to the elegant costumes of the Heian period when Kyoto was first established.

Date: 22 October 2021 - 22 October 2021
Venue: Kyoto Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine.

Free except for spectator seats in Imperial Palace Park.

Okera Mairi

On Okera Mairi, it is traditional to visit Kyoto’s Yasaka Shrine to obtain the sacred flame of okera, a medicinal herb. The roots of the herb are lit and then carried back home to start fires on which the first meal of the New Year is cooked. The herb is used to cleanse the evil forces and energies of the previous year.

Date: 31 December 2021 - 31 December 2021
Venue: Yasaka Jinja Shrine.


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Featured Hotels


Hotel Mume Kyoto

Set in a sleek four-story building in Gion, this warm and welcoming boutique stay has seven rooms decorated around the nature-inspired concept of 'ka-cho-fu-getsu' (flower, butterfly, wind, moon). In Flower, guests gaze up at cherry blossom karakami ceiling panels, Butterfly is defined by sumptuous red antique furniture, Wind is bright and breezy and Moon plays on a lunar theme with monochrome tiling.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

A well-designed hotel for both business and leisure, Hotel Granvia Kyoto is conveniently located in the JR Kyoto Station building. The hotel is spread across 15 floors with 545 tastefully decorated rooms, an indoor pool, sauna, and fitness room as well as 12 different restaurants and bars. Local artwork is on display in the lobby and guest rooms.

Kyoto Royal Hotel & Spa

Snap up an early-bird discount for a great value stay at this large modern hotel found within walking distance of an array of historic landmarks restaurants and nightlife spots. Its 355 well-equipped rooms appeal to both business and leisure guests with high-speed Wi-Fi tea stations and comfortable beds. The restaurant has buffet-style lunch and dinner and a Western and Japanese breakfast spread.

Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

A seven-minute walk from JR Kyoto Station, these ryokan-style capsules offer traditional tatami beds inside compact rooms to create something both unique and quintessentially Japanese. Space is cleverly used in the private rooms, which have air-conditioning, televisions and en-suite shower facilities, while free Wi-Fi and refreshments are available in a communal lounge area.

Iori Kyoto Townhouse Stays

A machiya (a traditional merchant townhouse) is an excellent hotel alternative, especially for group rental. Try one of the eleven Iori residences found dotted across central Kyoto, each one luxuriously restored and decked in Asian art. Varying in size, the houses combine traditional architecture, such as beam-work and tokonoma alcoves, with modern conveniences, to give a taste of traditional Japanese living in lavish style.

Nishiyama Ryokan

Adding a modern twist to the traditional ryokan (Japanese inn), Nishiyama offers affordability, comfort and welcoming staff. The Japanese and Western-style rooms are spacious and relaxing and there are shared baths (separate men and women), a dining room and a comfortable lounge with laptop ports. The ryokan is conveniently located downtown close to shopping, sightseeing and nightlife.