Nov. 27, 2018 UPDATE

Popular Higashiyama Hanatoro

- 東山花灯路 -
PeriodMarch 8th-17th, 2019
Higashiyama area and the temples are illuminated by lanterns in March
Higashiyama Hanatoro (also written Hanatouro) is one of the two Hanatoro events held in Kyoto every year; the other one being Arashiyama Hanatoro in December. There is really a lot to see at Higashiyama Hanatoro, from dancing apprentice geishas to the mysterious fox’s wedding procession (more about this later), to temples like Kiyomizu-dera and Shoren-in bathed in light. Higashiyama Hanatoro is held in the Higashiyama area in the beginning of March from 8th to 17th, and while it should still be a bit early for sakura cherry blossoms but you should be able to see plum blossoms. The event is a chance for you to see Kyoto in a new light – with a lot less light, one could also say. Walk in the narrow streets of Higashiyama and hope that an apprentice geisha, maiko, comes by, or just go see the maiko dance at Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera Temple where you are guaranteed to see them! ▼Click here for Writer's Blog
Kiyomizu-dera Temple illuminated at night
Kiyomizu-dera Temple illuminated at night
One of the highlights of the Higashiyama Hanatoro event has to be Kiyomizu-dera Temple. The temple is something to see even during the day, but at night it takes on a new mysterious look. The view from the stage is spectacular but not for those afraid of heights. Also, if you come to Kyoto you have to take this picture of Kiyomizu-dera, the temple symbolizing everything there is to see in Kyoto, and the temple looks even more magical at night. How about taking a memorable picture of Kiyomizu-dera at night? The temple is illuminated only during the Hanatoro event.
Ikebana Promenade
Ikebana Promenade
Ikebana is something really Japanese that is still famous everywhere around the world. Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers, and there are many schools that have different takes on the way the flowers should be arranged. The arrangements you can see at Higashiyama Hanatoro are lit up beautifully and their size is also of note. Why not enjoy watching these beautiful flowers that have been arranged by ikebana-masters while you walk round the temples of the Higashiyama area? The flower arrangements can be seen in the Lanterns and Flower Lane.
Apprentice Geisha Dedication Dance
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Apprentice Geisha Dedication Dance
It is not often that you get to see apprentice geisha dance, and for free! The elegant dance of the apprentice geisha, or maiko, is not only refined but also somewhat seducing. Getting to see the maiko dance like this is normally an extremely exclusive experience, so you should take this chance to see the dance and enjoy the night. The dance is held at Yasaka Shrine Kiyomizu-dera Temple so be sure to also check what the shrine and temple look like when illuminated at night.
The fox’s wedding
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The fox’s wedding
Twice every day during the Hanatoro event a wedding procession takes place from Chion-in to Koudai-ji Temple. The first procession starts at 7 p.m. and the second one at 8 p.m. The wedding procession has its roots in Japanese folklore – a woman wearing a white fox mask is carried on a rickshaw, and participating and seeing this procession is said to bring good luck. There is something very ethereal in the procession, and as the procession does have its roots in Japanese folklore you do feel an air of mystery surrounding the woman wearing the fox mask.
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Overseas Tourist-Friendly
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Both Hanatoro events are my absolute favorites in Kyoto! Higashiyama Hanatoro is a special event where you have a lot to see, like the fox’s wedding procession, a Ghibli like event you are not likely to see often, plus really many temples are illuminated beautifully. If you have not yet decided when to come to Kyoto, I recommend you come in time to see either one of the Hanatoro events, or better yet, come see both of them, Higashiyama in March and Arashiyama in December.
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Higashiyama Hanatoro / 東山花灯路
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Address Higashiyama area (In the north from Shoren-in Temple to the Maruyama Park, through Yasaka Shrine, and in the south to Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Many temples and shrines along the route are illuminated)
Directions Easy access from subway Tozai line Higashiyama and Keihan Gion Shijo stations
Event time 6 pm to 9:30 pm
Cancellations Rain or Shine
Price range
You are free to stroll around, but have to pay an entrance fee to enter the temples
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Overseas Tourist-Friendly
The signs at the event have English on them and there are some English-speaking volunteers, but most of the staff can only speak Japanese. You can get English flyers at the information points.
Information English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese official website
Lanuages spoken Japanese only
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