Kansai Summer

What to do in Kyoto in Summer | Travel Guide

Will you be visiting Kyoto in summer? Kyoto in the summer is both very hot and humid, yet this prefecture of Japan is many people’s favorite time of year. If you are thinking about visiting Kyoto in summer, then prepare for warm weather and cultural festivals and events including Ajisai Matsuri to keep you busy.

The summer months in Kyoto are June, July and August. You will experience many sunny days throughout the season! During the summer months, visitors can experience the rainy season from mid-June to late-July in Kyoto. It does not rain everyday so travelling in and around Kyoto is still enjoyable.

There are a number of festivals and events you can explore alongside visiting Kyoto’s famous temples and shrines and traditional Japanese gardens. Here in this post, you will find out the things you can do and see and in Kyoto in summer.

Summer Weather in Kyoto

If you are a local resident in Kyoto and have been living there for a few years then you know the typical weather of Kyoto in summer. The summer is very hot and humid with frequent rains.

The average temperature in summer is 33C/91F, though in August it starts to fall down to 28.2C. In Recent years, temperatures reach highs of over 35 Degree Celsius, which is very concerning.

Wear breathable clothing, and carry an umbrella when you go outside for a walk on the street or in the garden.

During the rainy season, wear waterproof shoes so you can walk comfortably without getting your feet wet. You can wear sandals as they dry quickly and easier to take off at temples and shrines. 

Gion Matsuri/Gion Festival

The processions of floats. Photo Credit: 江戸村のとくぞう at Wikimedia Commons.

One of Japan’s most famous summer festivals is Gion Matsuri, dating back all the way to 869 as a religious ceremony to appease the gods and prevent an epidemic. This is an important the festival of Yakasa Shrine.

It takes place in Kyoto city and begins in early-July. Visitors can celebrate this festival over the whole month of July, where they can see different rituals and events including the main event Yamaboko Junko (the procession of floats) that occurs on July 17 from 9:00 to 13:00.

The procession of floats and the procession of mikoshi (the portable shrines) are two different things. Mikoshi procession happens in the evening around 18:00, where portable shrines are taken out, and carried on the shoulders of local men.

Note that the Yamaboko Junko was registered by UNESCO as an example of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

If you happen to visit Kyoto this July, make sure you don’t miss this summer matsuri, which often is regarded as the symbol of Kyoto in July.

Ajisai at Mimuroto-ji Temple

Beautiful hydreagea gardens at Mimuroto-ji. Photo Credit: Hiroaki Kaneko.

Hydrangeas are called Ajisai in English that bloom during rainy season across Japan.

At Mimuroto-ji temple in Uji city of Kyoto, you can admire the gorgeous views of blooming hydrangeas for which the temple is famous. This is considered the most popular place in Kyoto to see hydrangeas.

It is pretty surprising to know that the temple grounds have approximately 50 different varieties. In June, pinks, blue and white colors of hydrangeas cover the whole grounds of the temple, making the area picture-perfect and worth a visit.   

Take a leisurely walk along the walking trails and experience the beauty of rainy season while staring at the colorful Ajisai blossoms.

And if it rains on the day you visit the temple during hydrangea season then you trip will be unforgettable. Believe me guys!

Hydrangeas can be seen in other places such as at Fujinomori Shrine, Umenomiya Taisha, and Sanzen-in. Visit these Ajisai viewing spots in Kyoot and surly you will be overwhelmed by a spectacle of colors.

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The Bamboo Grove in Arashiyama. Phot Credit: Hiroaki Kaneko.

Located in the northwestern area of Kyoto, Arashiyama is a district that attracts many tourists year-round and renowned mostly for its bamboo grove and breathtaking cherry blossoms and autumn leaves spots.

Home to tens of thousands of bamboo plants, this bamboo grove is one of the best views of Kyoto. It starts from Tenryu-ji Temple and if you turn right then it leads you to the far end of the forest at Nonomiya Shrine.

On the other hand, if you turn left, the path would take you uphill, and there you will see Okochi-Sanso Villa. This beautiful property has eye-catching traditional Japanese gardens with a teahouse and you won’t get board exploring the surroundings.

Experience something magical while taking a walk along the path that cut through the bamboo groves, especially during rainfall. Indeed, bamboo leaves of the grove look shiny and greener in the summertime.

We hope you will enjoy a pleasant walk and view all those tall bamboo plants. Alternatively, you can enjoy nature there by renting a bicycle. They are available around the train station area.

So it is very easy to grab one. In fact, cycling around Arashiyama is the most convenient way to explore Arashiyama’s tourist attractions. 

Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion)

Kinkaku-ji Temple’s Golden Pavilion. Photo Credit: Zigomar at Wikimedia Commons.

Kyoto is renowned worldwide for its temples and shrines. These sacred spots boast beautiful ponds and gardens with walking paths and different kinds of plants.

If you are looking to discover some historic temples in Kyoto then you must visit Kinkakuji Temple and this is certainly a good place to start.

Build in 1397 by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu; Kinkakuji is a Zen Buddhist temple and a designated national treasure of Japan, which has been listed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

Although the temple looks gorgeous in winter, summer views of the temple building including the surrounding plants and pond make the site well-worth a visit.

In the summer, you can admire tons of green vegetation around the temple building, making the site one of the best places to photograph in Japan.

This kind of scenic spot in Japan is well preserved. When you travel to Kyoto, make sure to explore most of its temples and shrines as they will educate you about their significance in Japanese culture and more importantly let you observe the beautiful scenic views they offer throughout a year.  


Kawadoko dinning experience in Kibune. Photo Credit: 663highland.

Kibune is a rural village in a forested valley in the northern mountains of Kyoto. Many visitors flock to this tranquil area to get rid of Kyoto’s summer heat as the mountains offer cool atmosphere.

From May to September, many restaurants and ryokan in this village offer kawadoko dinning experience for their guests.

Here, Kawadoko refers to when visitors sit on a small bench over and/or besides a river and enjoy food and tea.

Stone staircase of Kifune Shrine. Photo Credit: mariemon.

This kind of exceptional dining experience helps to cool you down. You can simply try this at one of the restaurants and ryokan at Kibune, where you will be enjoying a perfect meal and the sound of streams of Kibune River that runs through the village.

Don’t leave Kibune without paying a visit to Kifune Shrine. The view of the stone staircase lined with red wooden lanterns is absolutely stunning both in the summer and winter.

This stone path leads you to the main shrine building that is dedicated to the god of water. In addition, visitors can take a stroll along the hiking trail starting from this shrine to Kurama-dera.

Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara

Sanzen-in Temple in Summer.

Ohara is a beautiful mountain town situated in north east of Kyoto. It has some gorgeous looking temples with traditional Japanese gardens and building architecture. Compared to downtown Kyoto, Ohara is much cooler in summer. Therefore, many visitors come to Ohara to spend a relaxing day.

One of the temples in Ohara that attracts tourists is Sanzen-in. It is a Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhist temple established by Saicho aka (the founder of Tendai Buddhism) in the late 8th century.

The temple is famous for hydrangeas in the summer. And in autumn, visitors can see gorgeous fall foliage as many trees on the temple grounds change colors.

They make a beautiful landscape along with tall trees and particularly the view of fallen leaves including the stone statues in the moss garden is absolutely breathtaking. 

Summer is a good time to visit Sanzenin.

Explore the buildings of the temple such as Kyakuden (guest hall), Shinden (main hall), Ojo Gokuraku-in, Konjiki Fudo-do, and others.

The Shuhekien Garden of Kyakuden is a traditional Japanese garden that comprises a small pond and hills with various plants.

Spend a relaxing time gazing at the garden from the Kyakuden. In addition, in the main hall, you can sit and enjoy a cup of green tea and Japanese sweet for an additional fee.

Tofukuji Temple

Tsutenkyo Bridge. Photo Credit: bethom33 at Flickr.

Founded in 1236, Tofujuki is a large and oldest Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

It is renowned for its maple leaves when they turn colors in autumn. This is considered one of the best autumn leaves viewing spots in Kyoto and a very crowded place to be in the fall.

The temple complex comprises many interesting buildings, including the Tsutenkyo Bridge, Sanmon Gate, Kasiando Hall, the Hondo, the Hojo, Gaunkyo Bridge, Traditional Japanese gardens and other historical buildings.

Photo Credit: Zairon at Wikimedia Commons.

The greenery of maple is a perfect sight to behold in the summer. It is less crowded in spring and summer. If you want to avoid the crowd, be sure to visit the temple in the early morning hours, especially during autumn leaves season.

Spend your time exploring the entire grounds on the temple as you will find plenty of things to see. The view of lush maple trees from the Tsutenkyo Bridge is particularly spectacular.

I would suggest you to enjoy some times looking at the rock gardens of the Hojo. It will be a peaceful and relaxing experience.

Tofukuji is a 10-minute walk from Tofukuji Station on the JR Nara Line.


Kayabuki of Miyama in spring. Photo Credit: bethom33 at Wikimedia Commons.

Want to know what Kayabuki is? Head over to Miyama then! It is a small village lies 50 kilometers north of central Kyoto that has Kayabuki.

Miyama is much cooler than the big cities like Kyoto. So, a trip to Miyama in summer is a perfect place to escape the summer heat.

Traditional Japanese thatched roof farmhouses are called Kayabuki. In total, there are 39 kayabuki in this lovely village town. You can stay overnight in one of these houses that are used as guesthouses.

During your stay you will be served local produce. Check this out here to see some accommodations availability. 

Flowers in Miyama.

The surrounding mountains, trees, river and green paddy fields make Miyama a place of scenic beauty. A lot of flowers of different kinds start blooming from early spring in April to late summer in August.

Here, fishing season comes in August. Locals catch Auy (Sweetfish) in the Miyama River. The fish is grilled and eaten with Nagashi somen (thin noodles), making it Miyama’s popular summer specialty.

For visitors, bicycle rental is available and it makes easier for them to roam around the village and enjoy lush green summer nature.

Sagano Scenic Railway and Hozugawa River Cruise

This is such a beautiful view of mountains and hozugawa. Photo Credit: pang yu liu at Wikimedia Commons.

Kyoto indeed offers a lot of summer activities for its visitors. Those of you who think Kyoto is not impressive in summer actually miss some amazing scenery and outdoor activities for sure.

One of the most popular summer activities that I can recommend you is a pleasant train ride from Arashiyama to Kameoka that runs along the Hozugawa River.

And on the way back to Arashiyama, a trilling boat journey can be enjoyed which is known as Hozugawa River Cruise.

Sagano Romantic Train is a sightseeing train and it does run at a slow speed so that passengers on the train can enjoy the beautiful outdoors through the train windows (with no glass). It is a 7 kilometers journey, taking about 25 minutes from Arashiyama to Kameoka.

Boats on Hozugawa.

On the other hand, after you get off the train, hop on the bus that connects the train station to the departure point of the cruises.

Even though the cruise is highly popular among tourists in autumn, it is still a very refreshing journey towards Arashiyama in summer. It is a 2-hour boat journey and during the journey, you can see some amazing summer landscapes and wildlife that Kyoto has to offer you.

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