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Special Winter Attractions in Kyoto

Photo: Kyoto

The stillness of the city in the clear, cold air makes winter a time when Kyoto takes on a very special atmosphere.

Kyoto Winter Special” campaign is a seasonal event organized to introduce visitors to the charms of winter in Kyoto. The period from February 1–28 is “Japan Restaurant Week,” when well-known Kyoto ryotei—exclusive establishments serving traditional cuisine—offer special menus at affordable prices. There are 112 establishments, serving everything from the typical cuisine of Kyoto, sushi, sukiyaki and other Japanese dishes to French or Italian dishes, participating in this event. The list even includes Michelin-starred restaurants Hyotei and Uosaburo. The Higashiyama Hanatoro will be held from March 12–21, featuring a five-kilometer walking course from Kiyomizu-dera Temple down Ninen-zaka Slope and through Maruyama Park to Shoren-in Temple. The course is lined with approximately 2,400 andon (lanterns) lighting the path and decorated with fresh flowers. This event will take place even in the event of rain. Well-known Kyoto temples in the area are also illuminated for evening visits as part of this special event.

On Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays in February (daily from March), visitors can see traditional Japanese arts—dancing by geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha), kyogen (comic plays), koto (Japanese harp), tea ceremony and others—performed at Yasaka Hall Gion Corner. After the dance performance, the geisha and maiko will be happy to pose with visitors for photos that will leave you with a wonderful souvenir of your trip to Kyoto. All performances are accompanied by commentary in English.

Among other special attractions during winter are the public viewing at Kinkaku-ji Temple of “secret” Buddhist statue said to have been carved by Kobo Daishi (774–835), who spread Shingon esoteric Buddhism in Japan. Parts of the famous five-storied pagoda of To-ji Temple, a World Heritage site, and the Sanmon Gate of Chion-in Temple, not ordinarily shown to visitors, will also be open to the public from January 8 to March 21.

Don’t miss this chance to experience Kyoto’s special spell during the winter season.

Related information: HigashiyamaHanatoro Lantern Festival Walking Tour