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This month's plans

"This month's plans" offers you some ideas to visit and feel at peace during your stay as well as enjoy seasonal events in Kyoto. They are mostly in outdoor, including some mountains, so that you can enjoy a green and healthy stay and save money as well!

Obon Events

Obon Events

Every year Japanese people have a custom to welcome our ancestors back from the hereafter on or around August 10th and send them back there on August 16th. People clean and decorate the alters and the graves of their ancestors. This is a Buddhist event and worship, so it is the busiest season for monks throughout the year. Temples light candles or ring the temple bell when they welcome and send the ancestors’ souls.
Visitors can see and join the events at some temples.
The famous event in summer Kyoto, Daimonji-no-okuribi is also one of the obon events. (see Daimonji-no-okuribi)
Here are some events of temples in Kyoto related to obon.

1. August 7th ~ 10th, 6:00-22:00 @Rokudo-chinno-ji Temple
The well of this temple, which is said to connect to the hereafter, is well-known.
(10 minutes walk west from “Kiyomizumichi” Bus stop.)

2. August 8th ~ 10th, 20:00- & 16th, 16:30- @Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple
The temple places lights on the alter to welcome the ancestors.
(15 minutes walk west from “Kiyomizumichi” Bus stop.)

3. August 9th ~ 16th, 19:00-21:00 @Mibu-dera Temple
About 1000 lanterns will be lit. A Nenbutsu dance will be dedicated to the ancestors on 9th and 16th, 20:00~.
(Mibudera-michi Bus stop)

4. August 16th, 19:00-21:00 @Togetsukyo Bridge at Arashiyama
A lot of lanterns will be floated on the Oi River to send the ancestors back safely to the hereafter.
(Saga-Arashiyama Station on JR line or Arashiyama Station on Randen line)

5. August 14th ~ 16th, 19:00-21:30 @Kiyomizu Temple
This temple will open at night time specially to welcome the ancestors. (¥400)
( 10 minutes walk east from “Kiyomizumichi” Bus stop)

6. Daimonji-no-okuribi, light on August 16th, 20:00~ @Mt. Daimonji

The Daimonji festival (Gozan-no-okuribi) on the 16th of August is the culmination of the major summer holiday in Japan: Obon, a Buddhist custom during which the family gather together to commemorate their deceased ancestors.
Tradition calls for the family to visit their ancestor’s gravesites to light lanterns and thus call the spirits back to the family home.
After 3 days it is time for the ancestors to again leave his world, and thus huge signal fires are lit to guide them back to the ‘other side’.
Five of Kyoto’s surrounding mountains are set ablaze with bonfires, each depicting a Chinese Character or other symbol, and throughout the city people clamber and climb to get view. As the fires roar into life one after the other, the heavy, sticky evening air is not only filled with flames and smoke from the burning towers of pine, but also permeates with a sense of eerie reverence as people farewell the ghosts for another year.
I personally think the significance of these fires is one of the most fascinating traditions of Kyoto, and a truly unique experience to witness.
(Written by Steve Cooke)

View Mt. Daimonji in a larger map

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Events Schedule

Flea Markets

  • Every 4th Sunday
  • Kamigamo Shrine
  • Handicraft market in peaceful and quiet grounds of the shrine.
  • Every 15th
  • Chion-ji Temple
  • 8:00-16:00
  • Kyoto's biggest monthly market of handmade goods and crafts.
  • Every 21st
  • To-ji Temple
  • 7:00-16:30
  • Known as Kobo-san, Kyoto's largest market for all kinds of antiques, tools and so on.
  • Every 25th
  • Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
  • 7:00-16:30
  • Known as Tenjin-san, a popular flea market at one of Kyoto's major shrines. Antiques, food, tools and so on.

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