Kawadokos – May 1st to September 30th
“Kawadoko” means a floor over the river, and they are literally floor boards (stage) placed outside the building so people can enjoy food/drinks outside and view the beautiful scenery while feeling the outside air. Many restaurants along Kamogawa River and Kifunegawa River provide this option for a limited time of year. Most of them are pricy, but worth trying for a special occasion. However, for those who want to try this seasonal event for a relatively reasonable price, read “How to Enjoy Kamogawa Kawadoko For Less Than 3000 Yen“.
Yabusame Shinto Ceremony at Shimogamo Shrine – May 3rd at
The biggest event in May in Kyoto is the Aoi Festival. The Yabusame Shinto Ceremony at Shimogamo Shrine is a part of this ancient festival, leading up to the main event. Here, archers will launch arrows at targets while riding galloping horses. It’s a very popular event, and it is advised to get there 30 minutes before the ceremony starts. 13:00 – 15:30.
Aoi Festival – May 15th
The Aoi Festival is one of the three biggest festivals in Kyoto, where hundreds of people (about 500) wearing traditional costumes from the Heian Period (794 – 1185) proceed from Kyoto Imperial Palace to Shimogamo Shrine and then to Kamigamo Shrine. For more information on Aoi Festival, be sure to read “Kyoto Traveler’s Aoi Festival Guide“. The procession will leave Kyoto Imperial Palace at 10:30 and when it arrives at Shimogamo Shrine they will perform a Shinto ceremony called “Shato no gi” and a few more ceremonies. Then they will leave Shimogamo Shrine at around 14:00. Finally the procession will reach Kamigamo Shrine at 15:30.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
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