February brings its own set of events and wonders to Kyoto as the temperatures start to rise to warmer days and some of the awaited spring flowers start to slowly flowrish. Down below is a slight description of the things that one can await while in the old capital city of Japan during this month.
Out with the old, in with the new
Part of the New Year celebrations, the Setsubun Festivals held all around the shrines in the city shall provide a highlight to the vibrating culture alive during the 2nd month of the year. Events vary slightly from shrine to shrine, but one of the most recommended certainly is the one held at Kitanotenmangu Shrine, a 12 minute walk away from Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa, our vacation “machiya” house. The event held here at the beginning of the month includes traditional Shinto rituals and the dispel of an “Oni” (demon/evil spirit) from the shrine, when the maidens also through beans out in the air for viewers to also get some of the good fortune and take it back home.
Other shrines, such as Yasaka-jinja, may contain a more formal event of “mamemaki” (bean throwing) were visitors can catch some of the beans thrown by special guests invited to the srhine, or a more interactive display where kids and adults can take a picture with the “Oni” themselves.
A belly full of joy and good fortune
From all the culinary delicacies offered in Kyoto, the “ehomaki” (fortune roll) shall catch the eye of anyone walking by stores and supermarkets. This big sushi roll, also called “futomaki” (thick roll) contains 7 ingredients in it besides the rice and seaweed surrounding them. The reason of them being 7 is due to the Japanese folklore tradition of the “Shichifukujin” (7 gods of fortune). This roll is eaten on the 3rd day of the month while facing the lucky direction of the year. It is also important to concider being silent until having completely eaten the roll since it is said that the good fortune may escape from within oneself.
The “ehomaki” can be found in supermarkets and convenience stores with no problem. Although, it is also recommended to make once own “ehomaki” to feel the spirit of this season and completely enjoy this event with either family or friends. Luckily our machiya house has the perfect kitchen to allow you to comfortably cook all that you may need while accommodating your entire travel group comfortably and in a relaxing atmosphere.
February through the 5 senses
One of the highlights to keep in mind for our guests at Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa is the Baikasai (Plum Blossom Festival) and Baien (Plum Garden) events held at Kitanotenmangu Shrine.
The Baikasai is held by the end of February, when the plum trees are usually at their blooming peak in the grounds of this shrine. Here, a prior reservation and special fee shall allow visitors to sit down while contemplating the beauty of the garden trees while enjoying a warming cup of matcha green tea served by the “maiko” and “geiko” (geisha aprentice and her superior) from the Kamishichiken old geisha district right by the shrine. It is without a doubt a highly recommended experience and having it at a walking distance still leaves plenty of time to enjoy the many other aspects of this month.
The shrine’s gardens can also be visited by themselves from mid February until entered March. The atmosphere here is perfect to take as many memorable pictures as one desires and share when back at home.
Another beautiful scenery to enjoy at ones own pace are the grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, just about a 15 minute walk from Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa, or a short bus ride.
Plum trees also blossom around this area and provide the enchanting atmosphere to indulge in the beauty of this season while completing the morning jog, picnic with the family or friends, or just walk by on the way to the next sightseeing spot.
Getting fit while sightseeing
February is usually the time of year when the famous Kyoto Marathon is held. Anyone can participate as long as they have previously applied so. The extended run crosses the entire city, giving a quick sight into the beautiful aspects present in each area, and makes it a fun experience to share with both local and foreign travelers alike.
There are other events taking place both in and outside the main city area, so it is practical to stay updated as to what may be going on around the area that is chosen to visit each day. For that, we have an onsite concierge at our machiya house able to help you plan your days and assist with anything needed. Perfect to not waste time and make the best out of your days in Kyoto.