Best Things to Do in Kyoto in September

If you are going to go sightseeing, you want to incorporate into your itinerary things that can only be seen or experienced during that time of the year. In this issue, we will introduce the conditions, events, and recommended spots in Kyoto in September for those who wish to do so.

*The schedule of the events introduced here is subject to change. Please check the official website of the facility for the schedule.


Kyoto in September

Atmospheric temperature

September in Kyoto is the month in which you can gradually feel the autumnal weather, but especially at the beginning of the month, the summer heat often still lingers. Average temperatures range between about 20 and 30 degrees Celsius, and although many days feel hot during the day, mornings and evenings begin to cool down and gradually become more comfortable. It is also a time when the weather is susceptible to typhoons, so one should pay attention to changes in the weather.


In Japan in September, there is an event called Mid-Autumn Moon. It is held on the day that falls on August 15 of the lunar calendar, and refers to the custom of viewing the moon. On this day, dumplings are offered to the moon, the moon is viewed, and related events are held throughout Japan. In Kyoto, various shrines and temples hold events. And some Japanese confectioners sell limited edition dumplings for moon viewing.


September is a good time for sightseeing in Kyoto. Since the summer tourist season is over and the crowds are smaller, you can take your time to visit tourist attractions. Temples and gardens known for their beautiful autumn foliage are still too early for the leaves to turn green, but you can enjoy the quiet and serene atmosphere. You can also visit historical sites that are open to the public on special occasions.

September Fashion

September clothing in Kyoto should be appropriate for this time of year, as the summer heat gradually transitions to autumn. Long-sleeved shirts and blouses made of lightweight material are useful, as the days can still be hot during the day. It is advisable to carry a cardigan or light jacket in case the mornings and evenings get cooler. Also, remember to carry a folding umbrella in case of sudden rain. You can also enjoy fashion by incorporating casual yet seasonal accessories and colors.

Participate in the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

Mid-Autumn Moon Offering Image

The Mid-Autumn Moon is the custom of viewing the moon on the day that falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. It is one of the traditional events that have been popular in Japan since ancient times.

On the night of the Mid-Autumn Moon, it is customary to make “otsukimi dango” (moon-viewing dumplings) as an offering to the moon, and it is believed that eating the dango after the offering will bring health and happiness.

The date of August 15 on the lunar calendar changes from year to year; it is usually sometime between September and October.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine (八坂神社):Gionsha Kangetsu-sai Festival (祇園社観月祭)

Every year on the day of the Mid-Autumn Moon, Yasaka-jinja Shrine holds a festival to admire the Mid-Autumn Moon in the Buden (dance hall) on the shrine grounds. Located in front of the main shrine building, the Buden is lit by lanterns, and various dedication ceremonies such as bugaku and koto music are performed.

Kamigamo-jinja Shrine (Kamo Betsurai-jinja Shrine) (上賀茂神社): Kamo Kangetsu-sai Festival (賀茂観月祭)

Kamigamo-jinja Shrine also holds a festival in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Moon. The festival is held at the “Umaba-dono” on the lawn of the shrine grounds, where Shinto rituals are performed, followed by Kagura (Shinto music and dance), taiko drum performances, and other votive offerings. Participants are also offered tsukimi dango (moon-viewing dumplings). The number of otsukimi dango is limited.

Kodai-ji Temple (高台寺):Autumn Night Kangetsu Tea Ceremony (秋の夜の観月茶会)

Kodai-ji Temple holds a Kangetsu Tea Ceremony for a fee during the Otsukimi season. Visitors can enjoy matcha green tea at Kogetsuan and view the illuminated garden. This is a perfect event to enjoy the autumn atmosphere of Kyoto. It is nice to note that the event is held not only on the day of the Mid-Autumn Moon, but also for several days. The date of the event changes from year to year, so please check the official website.

Participate in unique events

Kyoto in September is a relatively less eventful time of year, but there are still some interesting festivals and other events taking place.

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine (松尾大社):Hassaku-sai Festival (八朔祭)

Precincts during the Hassaku-sai Festival

Matsunoo Taisha Shrine’s Hassaku-sai Festiva is held every year on the first Sunday in September. The most famous part of the festival is the dedicatory sumo match, which also includes an akachan dohyo-riki (ring-entering ceremony for children) to pray for the growth of the children.

The eve of the festival is also held from Saturday, the day before. A portable shrine will be carried during the daytime, and a Bon dance will be held after sunset. The fantastic atmosphere created by the lighting of the 3,000 lanterns on the festival grounds is also a highlight of the festival.

Yasui Konpiragu Shrine (安井金比羅宮):Koshi Matsuri (comb Festival) (櫛まつり)

Koshi Matsuri (comb Festival)

One of the unique festivals is the Yasui Konpiragu Shrine Koshi Matsuri (Comb Festival). It is a ritual to purify worn-out or broken combs. After the purification, women wearing hairstyles and costumes from various periods from ancient times to the present day participate in a period parade through the Gion area. In case of rain, the procession will be canceled.

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