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Tons of Fun To Be Had During a Summer Trip To Kyoto!

This video, titled "[4K]Kyoto summer JAPAN 京都の夏 観光 旅行 五山 送り火 灯篭流し 清水寺 鴨川 納涼床 風物詩 川床 Festival August Trip Visiting Guide," was published by Discover Nippon.

Kyoto is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Japan and is an ancient capital that has been around for more than 1,000 years.
Kyoto, being a basin, gets very hot during summer!
However, it's exactly because of Kyoto's harsh summers that there are many summer poems and cool spots that you can enjoy in the ancient capital.
In this article, we'll introduce some of Kyoto’s summer traditions alongside a high-resolution video!

Cool off Along Kyoto's Kamo River on the Way To Arashiyama

Image of Pontocho, Kyoto
Photo:Pontocho, Kyoto

On days when it's so hot you start sweating just lying about, taking a stroll along the Kamo River to Arashiyama (嵐山, Arashiyama) is a great way to cool off and is a popular sightseeing route.
There are many restaurants along the riverbank that offer platforms to cool off over the Kamo River, and we recommend enjoying a delicious lunch while soaking up the negative ions.
This can be seen from 5:48 in the video.

After that, consider checking out Arashiyama, one of the most popular tourist spots in Kyoto, and enjoy Togetsukyo Bridge (渡月橋, Togetsukyo) and other popular tourist spots in Kyoto?

Gozan Okuribi - One of the Main Attractions of Kyoto During Summer

Image of Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto
Photo:Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto

When it comes to summer in Japan, Obon is one of the most celebrated festivals.
Gozan Okuribi has been designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan by the city of Kyoto as an important Bon event to send off ancestors to Buddhist paradise.
The festival is nicknamed "Daimonji-yaki" (大文字焼き) because on August 16, during the sending off of ancestors during the Bon Festival, the character "大" meaning "big" (pronounced “dai”) is lit on Higashiyama after the sun goes down.

Following Higashiyama, the characters "妙" and "法" (wondrous dharma, referring to Buddhism) are lit on Matsugasaki, a fire resembling a boat is lit on Nishigamo, and another "大" is lit on Kita Daisen.
Lanterns then float down the river, illuminating the beautiful summer nightscape of Kyoto.
This can be seen from 8:15 in the video.

If You’re Visiting Kyoto in Early Spring, We Recommend the Goryo Festival

Shown at 3:33 in the video is the Goryo Festival (御陵祭り).
This festival is held at Goryo Shrine, which is said to be the birthplace of the Goryo faith practiced in various parts of Japan.

Since 2009, the parade of portable shrines through the city has been revived, making early summer sightseeing in Kyoto even more exciting!

The Gion Festival - The Most Popular Event in Kyoto During the Hot Summer Months

Image of the Gion Festival, Kyoto
Photo:The Gion Festival, Kyoto

The Gion Festival (祇園祭, Gion Matsuri), one of the three major festivals of Japan, is an event that heralds the arrival of summer in Kyoto.
It's no exaggeration to say that Kyoto is consumed by the Gion Festival in July.
The Gion Festival is a traditional festival held at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto.
The climax of the festival is Yamaboko Junko, a parade of floats through the city, held on July 17 and 24.
On this day, many tourists dress up in kimono or yukata and enjoy the beautiful and majestic Yamaboko floats as they parade through the city.

On the day of Yamaboko Junko, many travel agencies offer special tatami room dinner plans for tourists.

When It Comes To Kyoto, the Temples and Shrines Are a Must-See!

Image of Ryozen Gokoku Shrine, Kyoto
Photo:Ryozen Gokoku Shrine, Kyoto

Touring shrines and temples is an essential part of sightseeing in the ancient capital of Kyoto, a place where one can feel the history in the air.
Here we'll introduce a tour of temples and shrines in Kyoto that you can visit at night during the hot summer, as seen in the video.

Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine (京都霊山護国神社, Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Jinja) (video 3:35-)
Kyoto Ryozen Gokoku Shrine is a shrine dedicated to the spirits of the dead, and during the Mitama Festival, the shrine is lit up with many lanterns to welcome the spirits of the dead.

Kiyomizudera Temple (清水寺, Kiyomizudera) (video 4:45-)
In the summer, Kiyomizudera Temple hosts "Sennichi-mairi," a thousand-day pilgrimage where you can accumulate the virtue of a thousand days by visiting the temple for just one.
On this day, there is also a special "Yoi-mairi" event that allows visitors to visit Kiyomizudera Temple at night making the temple bustling with visitors all day long.

Gourmet Food in Kyoto You Don't Want To Miss When Sightseeing!

Image of Japanese sweets
Photo:Japanese sweets

Kyoto is a city where you can enjoy a variety of gourmet foods from all over the country, but this time I want to recommend some gourmet spots between Nijo Dori and Gojo Dori.
The area is lined with popular Kyoto kaiseki restaurants, international cuisine, and famous Japanese confectionery shops.

Summary of Summer Sightseeing in Kyoto

Image of Kaju-ji Temple, Kyoto
Photo:Kaju-ji Temple, Kyoto

Kyoto is a popular tourist destination with many sightseeing spots, such as temples, shrines, and rich natural scenery that attract tourists all year round.
The beautiful green maple leaves at Kifune Shrine (貴船神社, Kifune Jinja), "Kyo no Tanabata" at Nijo Castle, and the lotus blossoms at Kaju-ji Temple (勧修寺, Kajuji), a place famous for its cherry blossoms, are all places that you won't want to miss during your summer sightseeing adventure in Kyoto.

In Kyoto, the roads are laid out in a grid formation, a remnant of Heian-kyo (平安京, Heian-Kyo), and the entire city is seemingly one massive tourist destination.
During the harsh summer months, it's popular to take a one-day tour of Kyoto's sightseeing spots on a rickshaw with a sunshade, as you can see at 1:37 in the video.

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori
Kyoto's Summer Attractions Introduced in Beautiful 4K! Cool River Terraces, Obon, the Goryo Festival, and More... Check Out Some of the Best Ways To Enjoy Summer in Kyoto!
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