September sees the special once-yearly opening of Heian-jingu Shrine’s beautiful Shinen Garden and the To-ji Temple Homotsukan treasure house Autumn Special Opening.
Rice paddies outside Kyoto in September © Jeffrey Friedl
1 September 2019
Event: To-ji Temple Flea Market
Location: To-ji Temple
If you can’t be in town for Kyoto’s two famous flea markets (Kobo-san Market and Tenjin-san Market), this is a good choice. Like the Kobo-san Market, it’s held on the grounds of To-ji Temple. You’ll usually find a good selection of antiques at this market.
1-16 September 2019
Event: Feature Exhibition in Celebration of ICOM Kyoto 2019
Masterworks of the Kyoto National Museum: Temple and Shrine Treasures
Location: Kyoto National Museum Heisei Chishinkan Wing (The Collections Galleries)
Time: 9:30am-5:00pm (enter by 4:30pm), Fridays, Saturdays (expect September 7) 9:30am-9:00pm (enter by 8:30pm)
Closed: Mondays (The museum will be opened on Monday September 2 and Monday September 16 (national holiday), 2019.)
This “sampler” show at the National Museum is a great way to see some of the masterworks from Japan’s religious traditions. With works from all major mediums, this show is a great way to become familiar with Japan’s rich and deep artistic traditions.
1-29 September 2019
Event: This is Japan In Kyoto – From The Tokyo Fuji Art Museum Collection
Location: The Museum of Kyoto, fourth floor
Time: 10:00am-6:00pm (enter by 5:30pm, Open until 7:30pm on Fridays)
Another “sampler” show, this time held at the Museum of Kyoto, which is on Sanjo Street downtown. With works from various periods and media, this is good introduction to Japanese art.
1-30 September 2019
Event: Kamogawa Nouryouyuka restaurants
Location: West side of Kamogawa (Kamo river), between Nijo-dori and Gojo-dori
Time: Lunch and dinner
Price: varies by restaurant
Dining al fresco by the Kamo-river on a yuka (dining platform) is a great way to beat the heat of Kyoto’s zansho (Indian Summer). You’ll see the platforms extending from almost every restaurant on the west bank of the Kamo-gawa River between Nijo and Oike streets. One way to choose a good restaurant is to walk along the river and then head “inland” to find the entrance to the restaurant in question.
7-29 September 2019
This subtemple at Daitoku-ji Temple is a magical enclosed world. It’s a must-see for fans of Zen gardens. You can pair it with a trip to some of the other subtemples in the complex, like Koto-in or the eponymous Daitoku-ji.
15 September 2019
Chion-ji Temple hosts a fabulous handicraft market on the 15th of every month. It’s a great place to pick up unique, locally made souvenirs during your travels to Kyoto. It’s also good chance to see Japan’s alternative community and local expats.
Heian Jingu Shrine park
19 September 2019
While Heian-jingu Shrine is one of Kyoto’s most iconic and popular sights, few people take the time or spend the money to enter the gardens, which are located behind the main hall. This event is a great chance to enter the gardens for free and to enjoy one of Kyoto’s most spacious stroll gardens.
20-30 September 2019
Event: To-ji Temple Homotsukan treasure house Autumn Special Opening
Location: To-ji Temple
Time: 9:00am-5:00pm (enter by 4:30pm)
To-ji Temple, in southern Kyoto, opens its Hokotsukan treasure house to the public from 20 September all the way until 25 November. For those with an interest in Japanese Buddhism, particularly Shingon (esoteric) Buddhism, this is sure to be a fascinating experience.
21 September 2019
Event: Kobo-san Market
Location: To-ji Temple
Named for Japan’s most revered Buddhist Saint, Kobo Daishi, this market is one of the two best markets in town (the other being the Tenjin-san Market, held on the 25th). You’ll find all manner of goods on sale here including used kimono, antiques, ceramics, food, bric-a-brac, old postcards and books, and assorted Japanalia. In addition to being a great market, this is also a chance to see Kyoto’s foreign community, which turns out in full, along with hoards of locals.
25 September 2019
Event: Tenjin-san Market
Location: Kitano Tenmangu
Like the Kobo-san market (see previous), this is one of the two best markets in town. It’s named for Sugawara no Michizane, a 9th century poet and scholar who is the patron saint of academic pursuits in Japan. Known colloquially as Tenjin-san, the market is a great excuse to visit this shrine and see people, especially school children, rubbing the two stone bulls in front of the main hall of the shrine (doing so is said to make one more intelligent). Like the Kobo-san market, this is a great chance to buy used kimono, ceramics, antiques and bric-a-brac, along with food and drink. You’ll also rub shoulders with an interesting assortment of expats and locals.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Icoca card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- Get travel insurance for Japan - World Nomads is well-regarded (and here's why)