Takigi Noh, Heian Jingu, Kyoto
Torchlight performance of Noh in the precincts of the Heian Shrine, a two-night event in which various Noh schools participate. Tickets bought in advance 2,500, at the gate 3,300. Seating on mats and benches unreserved. Gates open at 16:30, performance lasts until 21:00. More information: (075) 771-6114.
Access: 20 min by bus 5 from Kyoto St; get off at Kyoto Kaikan-mae.
Festival of the Kibune Shrine, Kyoto
Also called Gokomai. Sacred dances in the morning and mikoshi procession along the river in the afternoon at shrine in northern Kyoto dedicated to water deity.
Access: Eizan Densha from Demachi-Yanagi to Kibuneguchi, then 20-min walk (there may also be a Kyoto Bus).
Festival of the Agata Shrine, Uji
One of the three unique festivals of Kyoto. People carry a portable shrine in the darkness, which evokes a mysterious atmosphere. Detailed description.
Access: Keihan Line or Jr Nara Line to Uji St.
[Atsuta Jingu, Nagoya]
Atsuta festival, Atsuta Jingu, Nagoya
Kyudo, kendo, sumo and judo matches during the day, at night boats decorated with colored lanterns at nearby river.
Access: Meitetsu Nagoya Honsen line to Jingumae stn
Unveiling of the statue of Ganjin in Toshodaiji, Nara (Kaisando)
Kaisan-ki, memorial service for the priest Ganjin, the founder of Toshodaiji.
Access: 15-min. walk from Nishi no Kyo or Amagatsuji Stations on the Kintetsu Line; 15-min. walk from Yakushiji. There is also a bus from Nara St and Nara Kintetsu St.
Unveiling of Eleven-faced Kannon Statue in Hokkeji Temple, Nara
Access: Take bus 12, 13, 131 or 140 from JR or Kintetsu Nara Station and get off at Hokkeji-mae.
Otaue (Rice-planting) Festival at Fushimi Inari Shrine.
About 30 women ("Sa-otome") in traditional kimonos perform a rice-planting ceremony within the shrine precinct, after which a dance is performed.
Access: Keihan Line to Fushimi Inari St or JR Nara Line to Inari St.
Otaue Matsuri (Rice Planting Festival), Sumiyoshi Shrine, Osaka
Rice-seedlings are ceremonially transplanted by young women in traditional costumes to the accompaniment of folk songs.
Access: Sumiyoshi St on the Nankai Dentetsu line, 5-min walk
2nd Saturday of June
Chago Chago Umakko, Onikoshi-Sozen Jinja, Takizawa-mura, Morioka
100 gaily decked horses with tinkling bells are presented at Onikoshi-Sozen Jinja and then trek 15 km to the Hachimangu Shrine.in Morioka.
Access: Special shuttle bus available on day of the festival from Morioka Station.
[Chishakuin Temple, Kyoto]
Aoba Matsuri, Chishakuin, Kyoto
"Green Leaf Festival" held to commemorate the birth of Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism. Purification rites and fire ceremony by 30 yamabushi or mountain ascetics.
Access: From Kyoto St, take bus 206 to "Hakubutsukan Sanjusangendo-mae" stop. Or a 10-min walk from Keihan Shichi-jo St.
June 15, Tokyo (only on even-numbered years):
Sanno Festival, Hie Shrine, Tokyo
Originated in Edo period. Parade of people in traditional court costume and procession of mikoshi.
Access: 3 minutes' walk from Exit No.5 of Tameike-Sanno Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line or Namboku Line.
June 17, Nara
Saikusa Matsuri (Ceremony of the Lily) at Isagawa Shrine, Nara
An offering to the shrine kami of lilies from sacred Mt Miwa and of sake in a cask decorated with lilies Four shrine maidens dance while holding the flowers. Ceremony to ward off illness. 10:30.
Access: Isagawa Shrine, central Nara, just South of the Tourist Information Office
June 20, Kyoto:
Takekiri-e (Bamboo-cutting ceremony), Kuramadera, Kyoto
Two groups of 4 priests dressed as warrior monks rush out with eight large bamboo poles and cut the poles into three pieces. The bamboo poles represent snakes and the ceremony is a symblic reenactment of the killing of a snake by the founder of the temple. At the same time, the ceremony is considered an act of expulsion of demons. Starts at 14:00.
Access: Next to Kurama Station on the Eizan Dentetsu Line from Demachi-Yanagi. It takes 30 min. to hike up the mountain to the temple proper. There is also a cable car part of the way.
Nagoshi no Harae in various shrines
Summer purification ritual by passing through a large ring woven of miscanthus reed. In Kyoto: Kitano Tenmangu, Kamigamo Shrine, Fujinomori Shrine, Heian Shrine, Nonomiya Shrine, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Yoshida Shrine, Kuramazaki Shrine, etc. (this last shrine holds this observance the whole month of June).