See Kyoto Enveloped in Mysterious Light at the Hanatouro Festival 2018/2019



One of Japan’s most recently inaugurated festivals, Japan’s hanatouro festival took place for the first time in 2003. Its aim is spreading awareness and enjoyment of the beauty of the ancient city of Kyoto – its architecture, local culture, and the overall magical atmosphere.

The festival initially took place in Kyoto’s Higashiyama area only, but by 2005 it had begun to be celebrated in the famous Arashiyama area too.

Image courtesy of Keiko Shih

What Happens?

As the former capital of Japan before Tokyo, Kyoto is a veritable maze of the lost, the ancient, and the beautiful. Especially, when explored after dark. Seeking to encapsulate and celebrate this, the hanatouro festival exists as an attempt to allow its spectators to momentarily step out of the bustling modern daytime city, by lighting up some of its most ancient streets and temples under the fragile glow of Japanese lanterns.

As well as the resulting sight being simply breath-taking to behold, the dazzling glow of the night streets is not all that’s in store for visitors. You will see a traditional rickshaw parade taking place. Also, a flower arrangement and art exhibitions.

Image courtesy of Keiko Shih

Interesting Facts about the Festival

Many of Kyoto’s shrines and temples will also be open to the public at night at the time of the hanatouro festival. They will give everyone a chance to witness Kyoto’s illumination in its full beauty. Among these are the famous Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Entokuin Temple, Kokdaiji Temple, Tenryuji Temple and many more.

The shoreiin temple’s gardens are a place especially worth visiting. Illuminated with tranquil blue lighting, the overall ambiance in the gardens is one that immerses the spectator entirely, bestowing upon them an impression of having been transported to a distant, spiritual realm.

Image courtesy of  倶楽部オータム

Tourist Information about the Region

Both the Arashiyama and Higashiyama areas are two of Kyoto’s main touristic hotpots. Consequently, visitors should expect to experience heavy crowds (especially if visiting during the spring cherry blossom or autumn leaf seasons).

Although you can expect fewer crowds generally at this time of year. The hanatouro festival is popular and, so I would advise visitors to plan their journeys accordingly.

Furthermore, Kyoto winters are far colder than other parts of the Kansai region, and so wrapping up extra warm is an absolute necessity!

On the plus side, the Hankyu Kawaramachi station area is home to a large number of bars and restaurants, many of which are open late, meaning there will always be somewhere warm to escape to for those who find they really can’t stand the freezing Kyoto winter nights!

Image courtesy of Keiko Shih

Details and Access

Dates & time:

Higashiayma: 8th – 17th March (18:00 – 21:30), 2019

Arashiyama: 8th – 17th December (17:00 – 20:30), 2018

Places: Arashiyama area and Higashiyama area in various places

Official website: http://www.hanatouro.jp/e/


Arashiyama area: From Hankyu Arashiyama station to Nisonin Temple (the Togetsukyo Bridge, Tenryuji Temple and famous Bamboo Forest are all located en route).

Higashiyama area: from the Kiyomizu Temple to Shoreiin Temple (the Kodaiji Temple, Nenenomichi Street and Chionin Temple are all located en route).

Image courtesy of Keiko Shih

Closing Remarks

Japan is a country of great variety, with each area boasting its own treasure trove of festivals and culture. Kyoto and its maze of old houses, shrines, and temples, however, is perhaps the hallmark of Japanese culture seen through foreign eyes. This particular festival especially, perfectly encapsulates the beauty of Kyoto culture from an aesthetic perspective. Whether you’re a history buff, an art fan, or simply curious about old Japan as opposed to the neon lights of Tokyo, then I cannot recommend Kyoto enough as an essential location to add to your travel itinerary today.

If you would like to see this charming festival and explore traditional Kyoto with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Kyoto Stay!

Kyoto is an old capital of Japan and a cultural and historical mecca for everyone who visits this country. It is the most popular city among tourists and a must-see destination indeed. Kyoto boasts over 4000 historical places including shrines, temples, and attracts visitors with its charming atmosphere of an ancient city. This city is great for shopping, bicycling, hiking, museums, galleries, green spaces, and features many famous festivals. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Kyoto! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/100-things-kyoto-sightseeing-spots-traditional-japanese-events

Do You Know What to Do in Kyoto this Winter?

Winter might be not the most popular season to visit the ancient capital of Japan. Indeed, the weather is severe and it is much colder in Kyoto than in Osaka or Tokyo. However, this season allows you to avoid big tourist crowds, see famous sightseeing spots from a different perspective, and feel the atmosphere of this charming city even deeper. The following article summed up the most interesting events happening in Kyoto this winter. I am sure, you will find something to fit in your travel plans!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/popular-kyoto-winter-events-festivals-2018-2019

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URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/popular-kyoto-spring-events-festivals

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I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5021/

The Real Kyoto Gion Festival

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Of course, Kyoto boasts many outstanding events to watch and participate, and you should do it when you have a chance! However, the original Gion festival with much bigger floats takes place every year in Kyoto in July. I am sure you will enjoy one of the most popular Gion festivals in Japan! For more information about Kyoto`s Gion Matsuri click on the link below!
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/982/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

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Despite having lived here for four years as an English teacher, Japan never ceases to both surprise and delight me.

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