Kyoto, being the old capital of Japan, is home to great temples, shrines, gardens, and geishas. This December 2017, Kyoto’s old streets will be adorned with lights and flowers as the Arashiyama Hanatouro is held. Here’s what you need to know about this much-awaited illumination event!
“Hanatouro,” which literally translates to “flowers and lanterns,” is a bi-annual event in Kyoto that illuminates the neighborhoods of Higashiyama and Arashiyama with romantic lights and beautiful flowers. Lasting for 10 days, it is held in spring (Higashiyama) and late autumn (Arashiyama) every year when the climate is usually very romantic with colorful trees and gentle weather.
Hanatouro was actually started by the tourism ministry to draw more visitors to Kyoto and to project Kyoto as a global city. The streets see maiko (junior geisha) dances, processions, stalls, and so on, while the gardens and trees get decorated with lanterns. Many locals and visitors from abroad like to take a walk along the illuminated streets witnessing the exhibitions. The temples and shrines in the areas of Higashiyama and Arashiyama, including the streets leading to them, get crowded with many people wanting to enjoy the lights. The lanterns are hung along the roofs of the buildings and on the sides of the streets for people to have a nice romantic walk in the evenings.
Arashiyama in the Ukyo Ward of Kyoto attracts several visitors because of its famous Bamboo Grove and the Buddhist temple, Tenryu-ji, which are actually among the major attractions in the entire city. It is also home to Kyoto’s famous parks such as Kameyama-koen, other temples such as Adashino Nenbutsu-ji, and villas such as Okochi Sanso, and others. Being such an amazing district of Kyoto, it holds great touristic value, and events such as the Hanatouro make it much more enticing to visit.
Arashiyama is also a famous autumn spot with lovely momiji (maple) trees standing along the sides of the streets and near the temples such as Nison-in and along Hozugawa River. There are romantic bridges such as Togetsukyo Bridge which is one of the main venues of the Arashiyama Hanatouro illumination event.
Happening for ten consecutive days from the 8th to the 17th of December, 2017, the main venues for the Arashiyama Hanatouro are the walkways of the Bamboo Groove and the Togetsukyo Bridge, which are going to be totally embellished with flowers and lights. The riverfront promenades, including the maple, gingko, and other fall trees, are going to be dressed up with lanterns, thus creating a wonderful night scene that you will remember for a long time.
The Hanatouro event in December is going to be only in the Arashiyama district, so you should not be expecting such scale of illuminations in other parts of Kyoto. Although the event is location-specific, you can, however, see a lot of other lightings and decorations at the most prominent attractions such as the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Higashiyama, and others. The Higashiyama Hanatouro happens annually in March, so you should be expecting it in 2018 between the 9th and the 18th.
The autumn and winter illuminations are going to beckon each and every one who is in Japan as they are going to be spectacular. There are also special buses and other public transportation options available for people intending to travel to Kyoto for the illuminations. Kindly check with your nearest tourist office to gather more information on the Hanatouro and other events in the heritage city of Kyoto. The narrow streets and the old traditional Japanese architectural buildings make Kyoto one of the best destinations to see illuminations in the entire country.