Enjoy summer nights in the suburbs of Kyoto

The downside of summer in Kyoto is the heat that is typical of a valley. That’s why we recommend enjoying the cooler nights of the Kyoto suburbs that are separated from the city center. This area offers something different to the daytime tourist spots, and you will no doubt find something new to enjoy about Kyoto here.

Savor the refreshing waters of Kibune in the “back room” of Kyoto

A superior kawadoko experience where you can enjoy famous cuisine on the clear streams of Kibune

Kibune is a summer resort area in the mountains in the north part of the Kyoto Basin about one hour from Kyoto Station by train or bus. As the temperature in summer is lower than in the city center, Kibune, which is known as the back room of Kyoto, will refresh you with its revitalizing greenery and clear streams.

One essential experience here is kawadoko (platform on a river), which is a classic Kyoto summertime activity. Kawadoko refers to the elegant experience of enjoying food and drinks on a platform projecting from the river on a dry riverbed. One feature of the Kibune kawadoko is that the water’s surface is so close that you can almost touch it. Kibune Fujiya is a culinary hotel where the first kawadoko is said to have been erected in the Kibune River about 90 years ago. It is also well-known for the atmosphere at night which is accentuated by the hazy lighting. In the nature of Kibune, which remains the same as it ever was, the meticulously prepared Fujiya freshwater fish-based cuisine will make you forget both the heat and your busy everyday life.

Kibune Fujiya

40, Kibune-cho, Kurama, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto;
Kawadoko cuisine fee:
From 9,000 yen (excluding service charge/cover charge);
Kawadoko hours:
11:00AM to 20:00PM (admission until 19PM);
Kawadoko period:
June 1 to September 23; Open everyday during opening period (meals are served indoors in case of rain);

Tanabata prayers and water oracles at the Kifune Shrine where the god of water is worshipped

When visiting Kibune, you must go to the amazing spot that is Kifune Shrine. For about six weeks starting July 1, the Tanabata Bamboo Decoration Light-up is held, where the grounds of the shrine are enveloped in a magical atmosphere. In the legend/festival of Tanabata, which is known throughout East Asia, it is common in Japan to write your wishes on a piece of paper and to place it on a bamboo tree. At Kifune Shrine during the Tanabata season, you will enjoy a supremely refreshing evening among the relaxing sounds of the streams from Kibune River and the wind as it blows through the bamboo trees. Why don’t you write your wish on a piece of paper and hanging it on a bamboo branch, and pray to the god of Kifune Shrine?

The opening hours of the shrine are extended during the light-up period, so, good-luck charms and written oracles (omikuji) originating here can be purchased even at night. Above all, the most famous and popular one is the truly unique “water oracle,” where the words are said to float to the surface if it is placed in the water in the temple. Recently, Kifune Shrine has become popular for the god of matchmaking, but it was originally known for the god of water, and the water oracles were often said to be accurate because the god of water knows all. Scan the QR Code on the written oracle to receive an explanation written in English, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese or Korean. Wi-Fi access is also freely available in the temple grounds.

Kifune Shrine Tanabata Bamboo Decoration Light-up

180 Kifune-cho, Kurama, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto;
Shrine visit:
Free (paper strip 100yen, water oracle 200 yen);
Tanabata bamboo decoration light-up hours:
From sunset to 20:00PM (until 21PM on weekends and holidays);
Tanabata bamboo decoration light-up period:
July 1 to August 15 Open throughout

Experience the atmosphere of Kyoto from two different eras in Fushiimi and Uji

The summertime features of Fushimi will take you back to the Edo and Meiji eras

South of Kyoto is the sake-producing area of Fushimi, which is ranked in the top three sake areas in Japan. The many ancient sake cellars remaining on Sakagura Street in the center of Fushimi-ku will transport you back to the Edo and Meiji periods. One of the classic features of summer in Fushimi is the refined atmosphere of the “Fushimi Sakagura-dori Toro Light-up” that bathes the sake cellar area in soft blue light. Many of the cellars offer tours and taste tests during the day, so you can come and soak up the famous sake during the day and the magical scenery at night.

For Japanese people, Fushimi is famous as the setting for the so-called end of Edo wars that were the historical turning point between the Edo era and the Meiji era. Starting in 2004, another fantastic event is the “Fushimi Mando Nagashi,” in which multicolored lanterns float on the surface of the river in order to appease the spirits of those who died in battle at that time. Memories of the end of the Edo era are still being passed on today in this summertime feature in Fushimi.

Fushimi Sakagura-dori Toro Light-up

Kamiaburakakecho, Fushimi, Kyoto etc.;
Approx. 18:30PM to 22:00PM;
July 29 to August 16;Open throughout this period (cancelled in stormy weather);
+81-75-622-8758 (Fushimi Kanko Kyokai)

Fushimi Mando Nagashi

Minamihamacho, Fushimi, Kyoto;Free to view (Votive lantern: 1,000 yen);
18:30PM to 20:00PM;
August 6;
+81-75-622-8758 (Fushimi Kanko Kyokai)

An up-close Uji River cormorant fishing experience that started 1000 years ago

Further south of Fushimi is Uji, an area that flourished approximately 1000 years ago as a holiday home location for Heian-period nobles living in Kyoto.

As summer approaches, Uji gets excited about cormorant fishing, which was described as being very moving in the journals of Heian period nobles. Cormorant fishing is a traditional fishing method in which river fish are caught by tame cormorants, which can be viewed up close on a passenger boat on the Uji River. The whole area becomes like a stage lit up by the fire used to stir up the ayu sweetfish, which unknowingly enter the sight of the cormorants that catch them in their sharp beaks. You will feel completely immersed in the atmosphere of Heian period nobility as you soak up the scene of the cormorant fishermen in their traditional dress on board the boat.

Cormorant fishing on Uji River is also famous for the fact that there are two female cormorant fishermen, which is very rare in Japan. Utti, Japan’s first cormorant born from artificial incubation, made its debut in 2015, which brought the area even more attention. If you are interested, please don’t hesitate to make a reservation as a soon as possible.

Uji River Cormorant Fishing

Uji Tonokawa, Uji, Kyoto (Kisen Island bridge area in Kyoto Prefectural Uji Park);
Passenger boat fee:
Adults 2,000 yen, Elementary school students 1,000 yen (charter boat available for groups of 10 or more);
Passenger boat hours:
18:00PM (17:30PM in September);
July 1 to September 30; Open everyday throughout opening period;
+81-774-21-2328 (Uji River Sightseeing Boat)

Fire worship experiences that light up the summer nights

The religious festivals and events are outstanding features of Kyoto. During a summer visit focusing on the suburbs of Kyoto at night, we recommend experiencing a more individualized trip with the fire worship festivals that light up the night sky.

Tanukidani Fudoin Fire Festival

This is a body-and-soul cleansing training experience in which the participants cross burnt ground bare foot. It takes place on July 28 every year, and there have been many participants from overseas in recent years.

6 Matsubara-cho, Ichijoji Sakyo-ku, Kyoto;
Participation fee:
From 18:30PM (Fire walking from about 19PM);
July 28;

Hirogawara Matsuage

Matsuage is a festival in which burning pine torches are thrown onto a giant 20-meter tall parasol. The fact that this energetic festival takes place in such a still mountain environment is amazing.

Hirogawara, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto;
Viewing fee:
Matsuage burning from about 20:00PM;
August 24;
+81-75-746-0215 (Sakyo-ku Office, Hanase Branch)

Osaka Kansai Airport

from Tokyo Haneda

80 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 10※

Osaka Itami Airport

from Tokyo Haneda

70 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 15※

*Information correct as of June 10 2016

Details correct as of the end of March, 2016.