August 13, 2005

by Akiko Kagawa; Fumiaki Kai

What image do you have when you think of Kyoto? Is it the three big festivals such as the Aoi Festival, Jidai Festival, and Gion Festival or famous temples like Kiyomizu Temple or Kinkakuji Temple? All of them are part of the tradition of Kyoto. Now, a new history is being born. Why don’t you be a part of that history?

We would like to tell you about Hanatouro. This event started only three years ago in 2003. If you come to Kyoto during the middle of March, you can see beautiful lighting and flower lanes and other amazing sights. Because of these fantastic lights, you may never want to go home. (Actually, we helped with this event as volunteer staff.)

The Hanatouro is 4.6 kilometers long, and there are six kinds of lamps. At the entrance, we can see kinzoku-kougei., which are bigger than others. And we can see kyogoku-kougei-roji at only ishibori-koji (It’s a very short street near Nene’s Street). These two lamps are rare, so if you want to find them, please ask the staff where they are. Hanatouro stretches from Shoren-in Temple to Kiyomizu Temple, and it takes more than 30 minutes to walk it. If you want to see all of the lamps, maybe it will take more than one hour. However, I suggest you start around Gion and Maruyama Park, because those places are the main spots, and they also have very good access to public transport. When you feel tired or cold, you can relax at a rest stop, which provides seats and hot Japanese tea You can have a conversation with other people there, too.

This chart shows the famous temples and shrines around the area where Hanatouro is held.

Temple Picture Admission Fee Time Others
Chion-in Adult \500 Child \300 5:30 p.m~9:00 p.m It was built in 1954. One of the National Treasures.
Entoku-in Adult \500 Child \200 5:00 p.m~9:30 p.m Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s wife lived here.
Houkan \400 10:00 a.m~4:00 p.m It is a symbol of Higashiyama. It was constructed by Ashikaga Yoshimasa who was the sixth shougun in the Muromachi..
Shoren-in Adult \500 Child \300 6:30 p.m~9:30 p.m It is connected with the Imperial Family.
Adult \500 Child \300 10:00 a.m~4:00 p.m This is one of the National Treasures. This is the center of Hnatouro
Koudai Adult \600 Child \250 5:00 p.m~9:30 p.m You can see bamboo being lit up. It is really fantastic. In this temple there are many historical sites like jizou (a stone statue).
Kiyomizu Adult \400 Child \200 6:30 p.m~9:30 p.m One of the most famous temples in Kyoto. You can enjoy beautiful scenery in each season. In spring cherry blossoms, in fall red leaves, and in winter a beautiful snowscape.

In addition, there are many events each day connected to Hanatouro. Usually, we can enjoy the dance of maiko, apprentice geisha who are trained to entertain men with their conversation, dancing and singing. (Actually, I worked at Marudaiji Park near Yasaka Shrine as a guide for both Japanese and foreigners.) There we can also enjoy many events such as:


During this event, we can enjoy lamps lit inside bamboo at Maruyama Park. There are about one thousand lit bamboo. Even on a rainy day, we can experience a beautiful scene.
Higashi-Daikokusochou, Washi (Kouka)
We can view marvelous washi named kouka. Washi is traditonal Japanese paper, made by combining man-made skill and nature.

Ikebana Promenade

This is an exhibition of ikebana, or flower arrangement. This ikebana is bigger than usual, and it is held in cooperation with the Kyoto Ikebana Association. Everyday, the ikebana is changed, so you can see new flower arrangements every time you go there.


Street performances like juggling and singing are held in front of the shidare cherry tree, which is very famous in Japan, and Kiyomizu Temple twice a day.
Daigakunomachi Kyoto, Dentounoakariten
There are many universities and students in Kyoto. In this event, four universities cooperate with one another: Kyoto City Art University, Ikenobou Junior College, Kyoto Saga Art University, and Kyoto Saga Art Junior College. Jinnrikisha, which can be seen at tourist sites in Kyoto, is a carriage pulled by a man. In this event, maiko ride in the jinrikisha which are pulled from Gion to Koudaiji Park and Jingu Street.

Hinayoujin Ohayashi-gumi

During this period, children walk from Shoren-in Temple to Kiyomizu Temple singing Warabeuta, which urge people to be careful with fire.
Hanatouro has many interesting events, not only to see it but also to feel it. There are no other events like this is Japan. Why don’t you come and be a part of hanatouro in Kyoto?

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