Kyoto in Summer

Summer in Kyoto is both very hot and very humid.  It still is a pleasant season for visiting Kyoto!  There are a number of festivals and events, and many of the gardens are at their peak for color saturation, with incredible greens. 

People usually stay longer in Summer, taking their time to enjoy their visit. 

A few events are important in Summer, with of course the largest festival of Japan, Gion Matsuri, taking place during the month of July. And in August, the Obon festival will enable you to see how Japanese people interact with their ancestors and past loved ones. 

Here are a few sites and destinations we recommend for seeing Kyoto during the Summer. 

Gion Matsuri, User Manual

The Gion Matsuri, the most important festival of the year in Kyoto takes place in July. This is not just Kyoto’s biggest festival, it’s one of Japan’s biggest annual events. It’s a month-long series of events, culminating with the spectacular Yamaboko Junko Parade on July 17.

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“Sento-Kuyo” Memorial, Adashino Nenbutsu-ji

Adashino Nenbutsu-ji is a Buddhist temple located on a hill overlooking Kyoto from the northwest. On August 23 and 24, more than 1,000 candles are lit around the 8,000 Buddha stone statues in honor of the spirits of the deads.

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Ukai Cormorant Fishing, Arashiyama

Ukai is a traditional fishing method which uses trained cormorants to catch river fish such as sweetfish (ayu). This type of fishing has been around for over 1300 years, back to the Heian Period.

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Daimonji Manto Kuyoe, Nara

On August 15th, thousands of lanterns dedicated to the Great Buddha statue (Daibutsu) and to the ancestor’s spirits that are believed to visit this world during the “Obon” festival are lit around the Todaiji temple.

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Hassaku in Gion, Aug 2014

August first is a very special day in Kyoto’s Gion district. The term designates the first day of the eighth month in the ancient Japanese calendar, Gion’s Hassaku is an opportunity to see many of the “Geiko” and “Maiko” from Japan’s most renowned “Hanamachi” or geisha district.

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Hanagasa Flower Hat Procession

Right after the second Yamaboko procession on July 24th is one of my favorite parade in Kyoto, the Hanagasa Junko. With a large number of costumed participants, it’s a real treat for photographers. . .

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Yamaboko Grand Parade – Ato Matsuri

On the 24th, the procession of floats (Yamaboko Junko) also starts at 9:00 and last to about 11:30. This is the second procession (Atomatsuri) featuring only 10 large floats. It follows a different route. . .

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Yamaboko Junko, Gion Matsuri

This year’s “Yamaboko Junko” parade of huge wooden festival floats (Yama and Hoko) took place under heavy rain (we were spare a typhoon but got a tropical storm). There were talks of cancelation, but I’ve heard that . . .

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Shirabyoshi Dancer, Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri is Kyoto’s largest festival. it is a unique opportunity to see a number of Japanese traditions, religious processions, dances, music, historical costumes, etc. Here, Shirabyōshi (白拍子) female dancers . . .

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Gion Matsuri Festival

Gion Matsuri (祇園祭), the festival of the Yasaka Shrine, is one of the three largest festivals in Japan, and probably the most famous one. It takes place in Kyoto over the entire month of July. There are many different events,

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