Autumn

Most Popular Kyoto Autumn Festivals and Events 2018

Hikkey

Writer

Kyoto autumn festivals and events happen in the old capital almost every week. If you ever plan your trip to Japan, I am pretty sure that Kyoto is at the top of your “must-visit cities” list. Yes, you are super right on this. What is the reason not to come and see Kyoto once you are in Japan? On top of it, visiting Kyoto in autumn is the best decision you have ever made. It is pretty suicidal to be in Kyoto during the summer as it gets unbelievably hot due to its location. You would suffer from the humidity and heat. Let’s enjoy Kyoto while it is cool and comfortable.
Kyoto is the most famous ancient city in Japan. As you might have been aware, there are many historical spots and cultural events you can explore in the city. In fact, Kyoto is the most popular Japanese city that tourist want to visit. In this article, I picked up the most popular and existing events for you to join in each month of autumn 2018.

Contents

September

October

November

September

It is really nice to go to Kyoto during this season of the year. It is not too hot or too cold. You will enjoy strolling around some historical sites or joining festivals. Also, many festivals and events are going on in September. Most of those festivals that are held in Kyoto relate to its history and culture. It is an excellent opportunity for you to learn more about Kyoto. Here are some events and festivals that will satisfy your intellectual curiosity and stomach in September. Let’s take a closer look!

Arashiyama Ukai (July 1st – Sep 23rd, 2018)

Ukai means cormorant fishing in English. It is a very traditional method of catching fish in the river. Those cormorants are specially trained for this fishing method. Nowadays, this method is no longer practiced, but it is maintained as a tourist attraction. However, it is worth checking this event because the way they catch the river fish is something you can only see in Kyoto. You will watch this traditional fishing method from the wooden boat. If you want to know more about this event, please check the official website at https://kanko.city.kyoto.lg.jp/feature/ukai.php (Only in Japanese)

Kyoto International Manga and Anime Fair (Sept 15th – 16th, 2018)

Image courtesy of Kentaro Ohno

Manga and Anime is a huge part of Japanese pop culture now. Japanese government aggressively appeals its uniqueness and cultural value to the world. I bet some of you have read manga or watched anime before you actually come to Japan. If you are a big fan of Japanese manga and anime, why don’t you visit this big manga and anime event in Kyoto? This is the biggest manga and anime event in Kansai Area which takes place at the Kyoto Manga Museum. There will be various types of manga and anime exhibitions, presentations and vendors at the event. This fair definitely fulfills your curiosity about manga and anime culture in Japan. For more information on this event, please click on the following link: http://kyomaf.kyoto/en/

Toji Kobou Market (Sept 21th, 2018)

Image courtesy of Opponent

It only takes 15 minutes to walk from Kyoto station and get Toji Kobou Market. This event takes place on the 21st day of every month. Of course, you can visit it anytime you want, but September would be the best time to be there considering the temperature. There is nothing you cannot find at this market. There will be around 1000 textile and antique shops lining up the streets. You will find your favorite goods that will remind you of Kyoto there. Don’t forget to enjoy Japanese traditional festival food while you are at the festival. For more information about this event, please visit their website at http://www.touji-ennichi.com/ (Only in Japanese)

Tea Leaves Picking Event (Sep 22nd, 2018)

Uji City in Kyoto is producing most of the tea in Japan. If you are a big fan of Maccha and green tea, this is where you can experience tea picking. This tea picking is only offered four times a year. And September 22nd is the last chance for you to try it in autumn. You will see the tea fields all in green and creating the amazing smell of green tea. Traditional tea picking clothes will be provided for visitors. Then, skilled staff will help you with the tea leaves picking. This will definitely be an unforgettable experience for you! For more information about this event, please click on the link here: https://obubuevent.com/teapicking/

Kangetsu no Yube (Moonlight Festival) (Sep 22nd -24th, 2018)

This Moonlight Festival is very old and traditional. It started 1200 years ago. This festival takes place at Daikaku Temple where Ikebana (Japanese traditional flower arrangement) was originated. You will enjoy the Moonlight from the boat at this festival. The boat called Ryutou Gekisyu shaped like a dragon. It takes about 20 minutes to go around the pond. Enjoy lotus followers in the twilight and the beauty of the moon while you are on board. Ticket for the boat can be purchased in front of the imperial gate. Here is the link to the official website: https://www.daikakuji.or.jp/event_season_autumn/ (Only in Japanese)

Meigetsu Kangensai Festival (Sep 24rd, 2018)

This festival takes place at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. Shimogamo Shrine is a world heritage by UNESCO. It was built in the 6th century which makes it the oldest shrine in Japan. Other than the history of this shrine, what makes it special is its atmosphere. Being there just makes you relax and feel the holiness. Meigetsu Kangensai Festival is for cherishing the moonlight. You will enjoy court dance, traditional music, and tea ceremony during the festival. It costs 100 Yen for the tea ceremony for a day. Please check the following link for more information: http://www.kyoto-kankou.or.jp/event/?id=8747&r=1537189925.4252 (in Japanese)

October

October is the great month to enjoy Kyoto. There are several amazing spots to feel the coming of real autumn there. It is nice to go and join the events and festivals in nature or taste some local foods. After all, October is the best season for harvesting. And, October is the best season to visit Kyoto in terms of weather. It is sunny and warm for most of the days. Here I found perfect events for you to join in Kyoto during October. Check them out!

Zuiki Festival (Oct 1st – 5th, 2018)

This festival is a 5 days event which takes place in Kitano Temnangu shrine. This festival started 1000 years ago. Yeah, it is an ancient and traditional festival. On the first day of the festival, you will see the original portable shrine decorated with taro and vegetables (?!) carried by many guys. They start parading from the shrine and through the city. This festival appreciates the blessing of nature. There will be a traditional dance – Yaotamemai performed by little girls from the city. Please enjoy their beautiful costumes and an authentic dance. Here is the official webpage of the festival (Japanese only): http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/info/%E6%9C%AA%E5%88%86%E9%A1%9E/news_3.html

Mibu Kyogen (Oct 6th – 8th, 2018)

Image courtesy of Chris Gladis

Do you know the Kyogen? Kyogen is the Japanese traditional performing art originated in the 15th century. There are several Kyogen schools, but this Mibu Kyogen is a special one. There is no pilot to follow in Mibu Kyogen. You will see performers with masks moving to the rhythm of bells, Japanese drums, and flutes. The way those people perform on the stage looks really solemn. That is because of the play associated with the teaching of Buddha. There are two important plays that you should not miss: Oketori and Atagomairi. Those two are very important and only played during this festival. The event gives you a good chance to learn about the history of Kyoto. It’s not a free show: ¥800 – adult, ¥600 – junior and high school student, ¥400 – elementary school student Here is the official page of the event: http://www.mibudera.com/eng/pages/plays.html (Only in Japanese)

Kansai Queer Film Festival (Oct 19th – 21st, 2018)

If you ever get tired of exploring an old ancient city, going to see the movie would be the best option to change your mood. This Kansai Queer Film Festival is one of the biggest movie festivals that deal with movies with gender, sexuality, and equality both from Japan and abroad. There will be 29 featured in long and short movies from 16 different countries shown during the festival. Many people are welcome to this festival regardless of your identity or nationality. This festival takes place at Kyoto University which is one of the oldest national universities in Japan. For more information about this festival, please visit the official website: http://kansai-qff.org/2018/en/index.html

Saigu Gyoretsu Festival (Oct 21th 2018)

Saigu Gyoretsu Festival takes place in Arashiyama of Kyoto. This is one of the most elegant and stunning processions you will ever see. Nonomiya Shrine, where this festival is held used to be a place for Saio (unmarried princess) to purify herself before heading to Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. In the procession, there will be 100 people putting on the Japanese Heian Era style of clothes. And they all look elegant and gorgeous indeed. They perfectly recreate the view of the old ritual – Saio Gunko. It will definitely bring you back to the ancient times of Kyoto. Please find more information on this event by clicking on the following link: http://www.nonomiya.com/saigu.html (Only in Japanese)

Jidai Festival (Oct 22nd, 2018)

Jidai Festival is one of the three largest festivals in Japan. This festival started in 1895. You will see 2000 people in the traditional costumes parading through the streets of Kyoto. There are people coming to see the festival from Japan and the rest of the world every year. This festival takes place at Heian Shrine. It is the most popular tourist spot in Kyoto. The highlight of this festival is the Ladies of Heian Period. Ladies who pretend to be famous historical women carried in the cars in the beautiful kimonos – Jyunihitoe. Take a look at the style they had back then. For more information about this festival, check the following article: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/6915/

Kyoto Grand Antique Fair (Oct 26th – 28th, 2018)

I am not the only one who buys antique stuff when I go to aboard. If you are interested in antiques and buy them wherever you go, like me, this Kyoto Grand Antique Fair is the one for you to make a nice purchase. It is one of the biggest antique fairs that come to Kyoto in March, June, July, and October. The scale of this festival is incomparable! You will appreciate and get existed with the collection they have. There are tons of Japanese antiques such as ceramics, western accessories, kimonos more! It is hard to see everything in one day. Hope you can find what you like while you visit there. For more information, please visit the official website of the event (Japanese only): http://www.gomoku-do.com/

November

November in Kyoto can become really cold. Kyoto is the place where it gets really hot and humid in summer and very cold in winter. It may be a good idea for you to bring a thick jacket and gloves in case you are not good with the cold weather. The good thing about visiting Kyoto during this time of the year is the autumn foliage. It gets peaked in Kyoto during November. The city starts showing its real features with seasonal charm. In this section, I picked up some festivals and events that you can enjoy both inside and outside.

Gion Odori (Nov 1st – 10th, 2018)

If you stroll around the city in Kyoto, you will come across Maikos or Geishas who put themselves into traditional Japanese kimonos and traditional makeup. They are the keepers of traditional values, dances, and music. They conduct an entirely different lifestyle from the majority of Japanese women. Most of Maiko and Geisha festivals take place in spring. This Gion Odori is the only one in autumn. You will like spending time at traditional dance performances by Maikos and Geishas during this festival. Two performances take place in the afternoon at Gion Kaikan. When you are in Kyoto, see these traditional performances to make a good memory of Japan. For more information, please check the following link: http://www.gionhigashi.com/gion (Only in Japanese)

Kyoto Citizen Tea Party (Nov 1st and 3rd, 2018)

Image courtesy of Nils R. Barth

Are you interested in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony? Do you wonder if you ever have a chance to join one of the ceremonies? There you go, you can make your dream come true at Kyoto Citizen Tea Party. This Party takes place in Nijyo Castle every year by different tea masters. You can purchase a ticket in advance for 2500 Yen and with that, you are entitled to join two tea ceremonies. If you are hungry, soba noodles are included in the ticket price. Joining the Japanese tea ceremony will make your trip unforgettable. Enjoy the beauty of the garden in Nijo Castle while you join the tea ceremony as well. Here is the official site of this festival and the shrine: http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/bunshi/page/0000241620.html (Only in Japanese)

Autumn Colors in Kiyomizu Temple (Nov 3rd – 4th, 2018)

November is the best time to see autumn leaves in Kyoto. Especially, the view from Kiyomizu Temple is extraordinary. The temple gets illuminated during the night. The contrast of the colored leaves and light is breathtaking. It will move your heart for sure. Kiyomizu temple is registered as world cultural heritage site. The temple is always busy with tourists. But in this season, it shows different features. Without visiting Kiyomizu temple, you cannot really say you’ve been in Kyoto. Why don’t you go and see the temple with beautiful autumn leaves? Here is more information about the temple and leaves: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2533/

Kyokusui no Utage (Nov 3rd, 2018)

Image courtesy of papatomom

As you know Kyoto was once the capital of Japan in the Heian period. During this time Kuge culture flourished and even nowadays Kyoto people respect the culture. The Kyokusui no Utage is one of the events that reminds Kyoto people of their roots. This event takes place twice a year in April and November. There will be poets gathering at this event and dressing in Heian style clothes. They read poems according to the topic they are given on that day. And they drink sake that is floating on the river’s surface. The view you will see at the festival brings you back in the Heian Era. If you want to experience Kyoto culture, you should not miss this event! Their official website will provide you with more detailed information: http://www.jonangu.com/festivals.html

Hitaki Festival (Nov 8th, 2018)

You will come across many festivals that relate to fire during this season in Kyoto. Those festivals originate from the folk stories of the Edo period. The Hitaki Festival is one of the famous events held at Fushimi Inari Shrine. There will be over 100,000 prayer sticks sent from worshippers from all over Japan and thrown into bonfires for wishing good health and prosperity. At that moment the fire flames and smoke shoot up in the sky. It looks overwhelming and stunning! This is something you do not see at the other fire events. Also, you will see the traditional dance performed by priestesses at the end of the festival. The way they dance is holy and traditional. Why don’t you find out more about this festival on their website: http://inari.jp/en/rite/?

Tenjin-san (Nov 25th, 2018)

Tenjin-san is a huge flea market which has been popular among locals since 400 years ago. This event actually takes place every 25th day of each month. The 25th is special to locals as it is the birth and death anniversary date for Sugawara no Michizane who is worshipped at Kitano Shrine. There are many antique and kimono shops lined up on the street to the Shrine. You can drop by there in the early morning as it opens from 6:00 a.m. If you get hungry while strolling around the market, don’t worry. There are tons of food booths with Japanese traditional festival food at the site. Here is the link about the game and team, take a look at http://kitanotenmangu.or.jp/annual_events.php (only in Japanese)

Closing Remarks

Did you enjoy reading about the festivals and events in Kyoto this autumn? Of course, what I listed in this article is not everything. There are more events and festivals you can visit in Kyoto in autumn. If you cannot find the events and festivals you want to go, you may search for other events on FestivalGo. Kyoto is one of the cities where you can experience true Japanese culture and history. That is why this city keeps attracting people from Japan and abroad throughout the year.
If you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you even more information, please check the banner below!

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Check it out! URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4274/

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URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

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URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Hikkey

Yogi and Snowboarder. Love to explore nature and to meet new people. Currently, residing in the Kansai area in Japan.

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