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Monthly Highlight Archives

Every month, we present one event highlight and/or their respective venues. Here is a collection of all our previous event highlights, from the "Big Three Kyoto Festivals" to ancient shrines and great museums. Note that details like dates, times, and places mentioned below may be outdated and not correct anymore. Please check our main event calendar for current information!

2017 - Top 12 Traditional Festivals in Kyoto

Top 12 Festivals in Kyoto

2017 marks the first year of the What's up in Kyoto event calendar. We presented the Top 12 Traditional Kyoto Events that not even the locals would want to miss. These traditional events often go back several centuries and have survived to the present day virtually unchanged. All of them are free of charge and often draw large crowds of spectators, so if you'd like to be as close as possible to the action, we recommend to be about one hour early to secure your spot in the first row. Click the images below to find out more about each event.


First Shrine Visit in January


Ousting the Demons in February

Hina Matsuri

Doll Festival in March


Cherry Blossoms in April

Aoi Matsuri

First "Big 3 Event" in May


Purification in June

Gion Matsuri

Second "Big 3 Event" in July


Returning Ancestors in August


Moon Viewing in September

Jidai Matsuri

Third "Big 3 Event" in October


Blazing Maples in November


Ringing the Bells in December

2018 - Top 12 Shinto Shrines and Events in Kyoto

Top 12 Shinto shrines in Kyoto

In 2018, Japan's ancient Shinto religion is still a part of everyday life, and shrines of all sizes with their vermillion torii are ubiquitous, even in the biggest cities.
Out of the hundreds of shrines in Kyoto, we picked the Top 12 Kyoto Shrines, many of which date back to Kyoto's founding 1300 years ago. Explore their precincts and gardens, pray to the kami they enshrine and buy a goshuin - proof of your visit to the shrine. And if you come at just the right time, you may take part in one of the countless festivals that are celebrated in a unique way at each of the shrines. Some of the shrines below are popular and can get very crowded during big festivals, while others still feel local and quiet at all times. Click the photos below to find out more.

Yasaka Jinja

At the Heart of Gion

Yoshida Jinja

Tucked Away Under the Trees

Kifune Jinja

At the Source of the Stream

Heian Jingu

Majestic in Okazaki

Matsunoo Taisha

Protected by the Mountain

Fushimi Inari Taisha

Photogenic Torii and Foxes

Shimogamo Jinja

Cool in the Forest

Umenomiya Taisha

Surrounded by Water Gardens

Yasui Konpiragu

Hidden Gem in Gion

Nonomiya Jinja

Amidst the Bamboo


Five Styles of Garden

Kitano Tenmangu

Favoured Plum Trees

2019 - Top 12 Exclusive Museums in Kyoto

Top 12 private museums in Kyoto

Kyoto is home to dozens of museums that showcase the fantastic beauty created in the city in more than 1000 years. In 2019 -- perfectly in tune with ICOM 2019 -- we asked 12 Private Kyoto Museums to introduce us to their exclusive collections. Marvel in the wonderful art and exquisite craftsmanship that you will not be able to find outside of Japan. Click on the masterpieces below and find out more.

Note: Most museums in Japan are closed on Mondays, but are open during the weekends and on public holidays. Especially in smaller museums like the ones featured here, you may have to take off your shoes. In Japan, it is considered quite rude to enter a building barefoot, so please bring socks to wear inside, even in summer.

Raku Museum

450 Years of Family Tradition

Insho Domoto Museum

Homage to Creative Genius

Saga Folk Doll Museum

Not Just Child's Play


Living Nishijin Tradition

Namikawa Cloisonné Museum

International Fame

Seishu Netsukekan

Little Accessories for Men

Kawai Kanjiro's House

An Artist's Home and Workshop

Saga Arashiyama Museum

A Poetic Retreat

Shibori Museum

Continuing Ancient Art

Kiyomizu Sannenzaka Museum

Fine Art of the 19th Century

Hosomi Museum

Focus on Rinpa

Furuta Oribe Museum

Master of Tea Ceremony

2020/2022 - Top Event Venues in Kyoto

Top 12 event venues in Kyoto

In 2020 we highlighted places to spend a fun evening. But instead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, COVID-19 came to visit... In 2022, we restarted the highlights with the same theme in the hope that there again will be plenty of time and reasons to go out in the evening, hopefully to have fun rather than to drown your sorrows. Whether you want to party or not, here are the Top Kyoto Event Venues where you can enjoy music, dance, theater... both traditional and contemporary Japanese or with international roots and performers. Click the images below and find out more.


January - May


A Variety of Performances

Live Spot Rag

Hot Live Jazz Venue

Kanze Noh Theater

Centuries of Tradition


45 Years (A)Live

Ran Kyoto

Traditional Music for Today


ROHM Theatre Kyoto

Grand Scale Theater


Continually Evolving Traditions


Rockin' Hard Since 2012

Cafe Montage

Classic & Calm

2023 - Top 12 Buddhist Temples and Events in Kyoto

Top 12 Buddhist temples in Kyoto

In 2023, we've earned ourselves a break from the stress caused by the pandemic. What better way to do that than in one of the Top 12 Buddhist temples in Kyoto? But there is more to them than just peace and quiet: Many temples have exciting and often unique events that fuse Buddhist rituals with local beliefs. Just like the shrines above, the temples can get quite crowded during major festivals or in the cherry blossom or autumn color seasons. However, they are worth visiting throughout the year. Click on the images below to find out more.


One Million Mercies


National Treasure(s)


Arts, Crafts, and Children


The Tayu's Temple


Temple of Plays and Samurai


Colorful Gardens, Famous Paintings

Tanukidansan Fudoin

Ascetic Forest Temple


Imperial Villa with Ancient Pond


Ancient Power Spot

Mitera Sennyu-ji

The Imperial Family's Temple

Otagi Nenbutsuji

An Artist's Legacy


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