Tanabata Star Festival at Kifune Shrine Photo Credit: Bytemarks via Flickr cc Photo Credit: Bytemarks via Flickr cc For the Tanabata Festival, revellers dress in traditional garments and make wishes by tying long strips of paper to bamboo. This event is a great taste of local traditions and the lighting up of the bamboo at night makes it even more of a spectacle. Price: free entry Address: Kifune Shrine, １８０ Kuramakibunecho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-1112 Opening time: from 9am to 5pm Special Night-time Opening at Kodai-Ji Temple Photo Credit: Takuya Oikawa via Flickr cc Photo Credit: Takuya Oikawa via Flickr cc Every summer, Kodai Temple offers special night-time opening in memory of Hideyoshi, its founder. Every corner of Koda is illuminated beautifully. Not to be missed. Price: 600 yen per entry Address: Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Kodaiji Shimogawara Cho address 526 Start time: 9:30 pm
Nagoshi no Harae, a simple ritual to celebrate the arrival of summer, takes place on June 30th in almost every Kyoto shrine. It is all about admiring the beauty of the Japanese landscape and contemplating nature.
Date: June 30th
Price: Free entry
The annual Nagoshi-no-harae (夏越の祓) or “Summer Purification” is celebrated at the end of the first 6 months of the year. Thus June 30th is a day when many people all over Japan visit a shrine to purify themselves from misdeeds and impurities. Most shrines set up a “chinowa” wreath and after a small ceremony the shinto priests leads people through the chinowa. Depending on the importance of the shrine, this can be quite an event.
Kyoto, the old Heian capital, is a favourite spot to enjoy this festival. The weather wasn’t all that bright today with rain forecast in the late afternoon. Kifune shrine was on my list and I made it there just on time to experience the entire Nagoshi-no-harae (夏越の祓) purification ceremony. Kifune shrine is a major power spot in Kyoto and a romantic spot along the kawadoko trail of Sakyo-ku.
After a small ceremony at the Honden (本殿), the shinto priests walked through the chinowa followed by two boys carrying a wooden box containing hitogata (人形), white pieces of paper shaped like a person.
After this the head priest explained the meaning to the attendants and the importance of ridding oneself of the many impurities one had during the first six months of the year.
Then it was the turn for the participants of this years Nagoshi-no-Harae event to pass through the chinowa.
Everyone, including the shinto priests went down to the Kibune River, just a few 100 meters downstream of the Kifune shrine. They then threw the hitogata amulets down the rushing waters of the river.
It’s quite an experience and this area of Kyoto adds some charm to the event.
Last year, I attended the Nagoshi-no-Harae ceremony in Kitano Tenman-gū (北野天満宮) in Kyoto. You can read all about it here: Nagoshi-no-Harae ceremony in Kitano Tenman-gū!
Also called suganuki, a large ring made of cogon grass (chigaya) and erected on the pathway leading to a shrine on the days of purification (harae) of the last day of the sixth or seventh month (called nagoshi harae or minazuki harae). Worshipers at the shrine pass through the ring as an act of purification from misdeeds (tsumi), impurities (kegare), or bad luck. The Muromachi-period work Kuji kongen states that as participants passed through the ring, they recited a verse invoking long life to those who “perform the nagoshi no harai in the sixth month.” An extant fragment from the ancient gazetteer of the province of Bingo (Bingo no kuni no fūdoki) relates the tale of Somin Shōrai, a legendary hero who tied a magical ring braided of cogon grass around his waist and thus escaped an epidemic. In ancient times the ring of woven grass was attached to the waist or hung around the neck.
Tentoku-in Temple, built in the 14th century, is known for its bellflower garden. With flowers stretching as far as the eye can see, this is a beautiful spectacle of nature. Also, check out the bellflower shaped temple.
Price: 500 yen
Opening hours: 10am-4:30pm
Rozan-Ji Temple is famed as the former residence of Lady Murasaki Shikibu (Heian-period court officer and author of the famous novel, ”The Tale of Genji”). When the temple’s garden is in bloom, white gravel, green moss and purple bellflowers make for a beautiful sight.
Price: 500 yen
Opening hours: 9am-4am