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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 05 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Rob Goss

In 869, Yasaka Shrine held a festival to ward off an epidemic. It’s now one of Japan’s biggest festivals, attracting millions to Kyoto every summer.

Although running through all of July, with numerous small events taking place, the most noteworthy parts of the festival for visitors are in the middle of the month, when there are daytime processions of giant floats and a lively street party atmosphere at night.

If you want to go all-in like a local, go in a yukata – lots of people wear these colourful cotton gowns to summer festivals and there are plenty of places to buy them in Kyoto.

It’s hot, humid, and crowded, but nevertheless brilliant.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 11+
Frequency: annually
When: July
Duration: 1 month

When to do it

The event is runs from July 1 to 31. The major processions are held during the day on July 17th and (in slightly smaller form) 24th when the giant, elaborately decorated floats parade along Shijo, Karasuma and Oike streets.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Aman Kyoto

Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

Traditional inn meets luxury wellness retreat at this uber-exclusive hotel. Special extras include mineral-rich hot-spring baths and an evening with the geisha of Kyoto’s oldest chaya (teahouse).

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Ace Hotel Kyoto

Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

A plush hipster hangout smack in the heart of central Kyoto, ideal for arty and creative types.

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BnA Alter Museum

Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

One for art aficionados – a minimalist boutique that’s a living art gallery. All rooms are created by local artists.

Official star rating:

Celestine Kyoto Gion

Kyoto, Kansai, Japan

An affordable hotel offering modern Japanese simplicity and hospitality in the historic Gion geisha district. A great base for sightseeing.

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Kansai, Japan

Ancient temples and shrines, sublime cuisine, manicured gardens, colourful geishas and living history in spades – Kyoto is traditional Japan at its best.

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