Arashiyama is an area of Kyoto almost every traveler visits when they come to the ancient capital. In fact, I think many people think of the Bamboo Grove of Arashiyama when they hear the word Kyoto. So ingrained is the image of those bamboos in our minds.
But a lot also happens in Arashiyama during the year, so why not take a look and maybe consider planning your trip to Kyoto around one of these events.
1. Arashiyama Hanatoro
in December is one of the two Hanatoro events that take place in Kyoto, the other one being Higashiyama Hanatoro
. This event is one of the most exciting in Kyoto, as most of the major sightseeing spots of Arashiyama are illuminated by lanterns at night.
Even some places like the Okochi Sanso Villa
that normally close a bit early, are open until late at night, so this is a rare chance to enjoy the night in Arashiyama. Remember to take your tripod with you!
2. Mifune Festival
This event held in Kurumazaki Shrine is a chance to see what kind of a boat parade they used to have for the emperor in this part of Japan. A woman is chosen to be the author of The Pillow Book, Sei Shonagon, and she ten sits on a colorfully decorated boat and goes down the river.
There are around 20 boats, and besides Sei Shonagon there are also musicians and dancers on the boats. The river is held every year on the third Sunday of May, so if you happen to be in Japan during that time we hope you will take some time to see this colorful event.
|23 Asahi-cho, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
|12:30pm - 3:00pm
3. Arashiyama Ukai cormorant fishing
Cormorant fishing is an old way of fishing where cormorant birds are used to catch the fish. This ancient way of fishing is no more used as a way of livelihood, but it’s mainly an event and a sight for people to experience. Some people even say fish caught by the birds taste fresher.
This event takes place in Arashiyama from July to September, and it’s a sight, especially with the huge fire hanging from the front of the boat which lights the scene for the people on the boat, the birds, and for us onlookers too.
|Susukino babacho, sagatenryuji, ukyo-ku, Kyoto city
July 2nd - August 31th：Sailing twice a day at 19:00 and 20:00
September 1st - September 23th： Sailing twice a day at 18:30 and 19:30
Opening Hours：18:00 - 21:00 (until 20:30 in September)
4. Hari Kuyo at Horin-ji Temple
is a ritual held in Japan as a memorial service for old needles. In this festival old needles are stuck into tofu or jelly and then prayed for. It is believed that the worries of the women weaving pass on into the needles, and by putting these needles in the jelly the women are then freed of these worries.
Horin-ji’s ritual is special because at Horin-ji they also hold a memorial for the needles used by the imperial family. You can also watch the Buddhist sermon where they read a sutra for the needles, and there is also a dance by four women dressed in Nara period clothing.
Arashiyama Kokuzo-cho Saikyo-ku Kyoto-city
|1pm - 2pm