Since Kyoto is a basin, it is hot in summer. Walking around Kyoto in summer is not highly recommended. However, Kyoto in July and August has a very attractive side. In July, the famous Gion Festival will be held over a month. On August 16, In the five mountains of Kyoto, traditional ceremonies are held to send the souls of ancestors to the sky, with big bonfires. Visiting Kyoto may be the best way to experience traditional summer in Japan. For Kyoto, I have already compiled the following article. However, I would like to introduce the summer of Kyoto more, so I made a photo feature here.
Table of Contents
Gion Festival is Japan’s most famous summer event. It takes place every July, centered on Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto. The highlight of the festival is the parades held on the 17th and 24th.
In Gion, where traditional cityscapes remain, geishas also participate in festival parades. Japanese people who come to see the festival often wear kimono, so you can enjoy the traditional Japanese atmosphere.
Every summer in the Kamogawa River, which flows north to south in Kyoto City, the surrounding restaurants set up big terraces of wooden structure so that guests can enjoy their meals on the river.
Japanese call this “Kawadoko” “Kawayuka” “Yuka” etc. It is very cool and comfortable to eat on the river.
Kawadoko is especially abundant in Shijo Kawaramachi.
The beautiful Kawadokos will be prepared in Kifune and Takao located in northern Kyoto. Kawadoko in Kifune and Takao are very popular and difficult to book.
Kawadoko is generally open from May to September.
Ukai (鵜飼＝cormorant fishing)
Ukai (cormorant fishing) is a fishing method where cormorants are made to swallow sweetfish. In Japan since ancient times, fishermen have tame cormorants and continued Ukai.
The cormorants are strapped in their necks, so they can not swallow sweetfish. Once the cormorants catch the sweetfish, the fishermen will immediately get the sweetfish.
A large bonfire is prepared on the boat. This is to make sweetfish move in surprise with light.
Currently, Ukai is continuing for sightseeing. You can see Ukai while eating delicious Kyoto food on a traditional Japanese boat.
Ukai takes place in Arashiyama and Uji.
I would recommend Arashiyama for its tourist services.
The most famous place for Ukai sightseeing is Gifu City, located 150 kilometers east of Kyoto. Since I was born in Gifu, I saw Ukai many times in my childhood. If you really want to enjoy a lot of Ukai, I recommend going to Gifu.
Gozan Okuribi（五山送り火） = August 16th night
There is “Obon”, or the bon festival as one of the most important yearly events for Japanese people. In many cases, the Bon Festival takes place from August 13th to 15th. Kyoto citizens visit the grave of their families at this time. And they make the big bonfire in five mountains to have their ancestors see it. This is “Gozan Okuribi”.
Gozan Okuribi is one of Kyoto’s most traditional events alongside the Gion Festival.
On the night of August 16, the entire Kyoto city will be in a special atmosphere. If you want to feel old Japan, please go to Kyoto on the night of August 16.
Thank you for reading to the end.