Celebrating Kyoto’s Canal – Takasegawa Boat Festival!

  • KYOTO
  • EVENT
  • Every year in September there is a small festival in Kyoto celebrating the Takasegawa canal, which runs north to south through the east of Kyoto.

    Takasegawa History

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    Author’s photo

    The Takasegawa is an old canal running through the city, almost parallel to the Kamogawa river. Originally it was built in the Edo period as a shipping canal and was vital to the economy of Kyoto city, carrying all kinds of goods through Kyoto and down to Fushimi. This was important as Kyoto had no port of its own and no easy way before the canal was built of bringing in goods by water. At its peak, there could be as many as 100 boats travelling up and down the Takasegawa at a time.

    Nowadays

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    Author’s photo

    Nowadays the Takasegawa runs along Kiyamachi street and helps make this a gorgeous part of Kyoto to walk through. Most of the length of the street is lined with cherry trees meaning in spring time for a few weeks it’s a beautiful pink corridor along a trickling canal. In the evening, the city installs spotlights shining up to highlight the cherry blossoms making it an incredibly popular spot for an evening stroll.

    The festival to celebrate the Takasegawa takes place a little north of Sanjo street where the canal begins and though it’s not a big festival there’s a few attractions to make it worth your while. Firstly, there is the chance to see an example of the type of boats that used to work along the river and on the day of the festival you can board the boat and see it close up.

    Throughout the day there are lots of little shows going on in the street. Things ranging from Rakugo, a kind of Japanese stand up comedy (or sit down comedy as it’s usually performed kneeling!) involving telling funny stories, although this is usually only in Japanese. We saw a great Edo period comedy show involving a young samurai trying to get the girl he liked with lots of mock fights and big characters, even though our Japanese was limited it was easy to follow and lots of fun!

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    Another attraction is the tea ceremony performed by Maiko, apprentice Geisha where you can see the elaborate ceremony before enjoying a cup of hand prepared green tea. And of course, there’s always the beer stand!

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