There are many people who want to spend the New Year in Kyoto. What should you be aware of when sightseeing in January, when Kyoto is very cold in the morning and evening? If you know the average temperature and weather, you can plan appropriately and have an even better trip! In addition, we have a list of events to be held in Kyoto in January!
Weather and What to Wear in Kyoto in January
Weather and Temperature in Kyoto in January
After the comfortable autumn, there are many events in Kyoto in January when the New Year begins. Kyoto in January is very cold in the morning and evening, but the cold during the day is not so severe and there are many sunny days, so it is a perfect season for winter sightseeing in Kyoto. Looking at the temperature of January in Kyoto in average years, the high is around 9℃ (48°F), the low is around 2℃ (35.6°F), and the average temperature is 5℃ (41°F).
In winter in Kyoto, it may snow, but the number of days with snowfall is about 5 days. Sometimes you may feel cold, but energetic children can participate in events that are unique to the New Year without losing to the cold.
What to Wear in Kyoto in January
January is the coldest month of the year. First, be sure to prepare outer garments. You should be okay if you prepare a thick coat, down jacket, or outdoor fleece. It is best to wear layers, so we recommend thick long sleeves inside and thick pants or thick tights when wearing skirts. To be extra prepared, pack some gloves, a scarf and a knit cap. Of course you can buy all of these in Japan if you find you aren’t prepared for the cold.
Events in Kyoto in January
Obuku-cha New Year’s Tea Service
Visitors are served a cup of green tea made from pure water drawn on New Year’s Day. It is believed that drinking this tea at the beginning of the year will help ward off illness for the year.
Place：Rokuhara Mitsuji Temple (Kyoto City Higashiyama Ward Gojo-dori Yamato-oji Agaru）
Dates：January 1-3, 2020
New Year Calligraphy
The deity enshrined at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is Michizane Sugawara. Sugawara is known as a god of knowledge and as such many kids preparing for exams to enter high school or university go to the shrine to pray for luck on their exams. Sugawara was a gifted poet and calligrapher so at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine visitors go to write the first word in calligraphy of the year.
Place：Kitano Tenmangu Shrine（Kyoto City Kamigyo Ward Bakuro-cho）
Dates：January 2-4, 2020
Chouna Hajime (First Construction Ceremony)
Master carpenters visit the shrine to pray for safety through the next year and the rituals from many years ago are very elegant. The carpentry tools used in the ceremonies are also interesting.
Place：Koryuji Temple（Kyoto City Ukyo Ward Uzumasa Hachioka-cho）
Date：January 2, 2020
In this annual ceremony, fourteen women, dressed in court costumes from the Heian period, play karuta, a traditional card game introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century. Don`t miss the magic of flying karuta cards!
Place：Yasaka Shrine（Kyoto City Higashiyama Ward Gion-cho Kitagawa）
Date：January 3, 2020
You may know that most Japanese people visit a shrine or temple at the beginning of a new year to pray for a good year. This is called hatsumode. At Bishamondo Temple during the first three days of the year you can find a bonfire in the temple grounds and visitors will be offered a hot, sweet drink called amazake, both of which are sure to warm you up.
Place：Bishamondo（Kyoto City Yamashina Ward Anshu Inariyama-cho）
Dates：January 4-6, 2020
Men in court costumes play kemari, a kind of football game which dates from the Heian period. Even kids will be surprised to see the kicking ability shown in this sort of old style soccer game.
Place：Shimogamo Shrine（Kyoto City Sakyo Ward Shimogamo Izumikawa-cho）
Date：January 4, 2020
Shinnen Kyoensai (New Year’s Feast)
A feast is held to conclude the New Year’s festival. Dances are dedicated to Heian Gagakukai. A performer with a slightly scary face appears, but you can enjoy the tense atmosphere.
Place：Kamigamo Shrine（Kyoto City Kita Ward Kamigamo Motoyama）
Date：January 5, 2020
Since the Edo period, an offering Nanakusa (7 herbs) has been offered to the gods at this event. Nanakusa is believed to help ward off sickness through the year.
Place：Gokounomiya Shrine（Kyoto City Fushimi Ward Momoyama Gokonomiyamon-mae cho)
Date：January 7, 2020
You can see traditional music and dance performances throughout the night, dedicated to the deity of the shrine. There will also be sacred bamboo branches which act as charms for prosperity in business and family available.
Place：Kyoto Ebisu Shrine（Kyoto City Higashiyama Ward Komatsu-cho）
Dates：January 8-12, 2020年1月8日～12日
First Konpira Festival
For those who have carried on some bad ties from the previous year into the new year, this is the place to go. From the final Konpira Festival of the previous year on December 10 until the first festival, you can purchase a special charm.
Place：Yasui Konpiragu Shrine (Kyoto City Higashiyama Ward Higashioji-dori Matsubara Agaru）
Date：January 10, 2020
3 Things to be Aware of When Visiting Kyoto in January
Kyoto is one of Japan’s most visited cities and is crowded throughout the year. In particular, many visitors come in January, such as tourists who want to celebrate the New Year in Kyoto, those who return to Kyoto, and students who wish to pass their upcoming exams. We recommend that you book your accommodation early.
2.Slippery Roads and Sidewalks
There are many sunny days in Kyoto in January, but it gets very cold in the mornings and evenings. The roads may be frozen early in the morning. Pay particular attention where you step, especially in the mountains. Make sure that your trip does not become a “painful memory” for you or your child.
To make the most of your time in Kyoto, you want to be efficient with your sightseeing plan. In particular, there are many events and festivals in January and there may be many places your family wants to go. To that end, we recommend to carefully select the areas and means of transportation. Using the subway along with the bus is good, as using the bus alone can sometimes be wasteful of your time.
Services you want to use when traveling to Japan with kids
These days people from all over the world are traveling with their small kids. In Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous tourist spots, our group of local mothers and other like minded citizens have come together to make services specifically for those traveling in Japan with kids.
Kyoto with Kids Babysitting
You may be worried about traveling to Japan with kids, especially if your child is still a baby. For travelers who fit this description, we recommend Kyoto with Kids Babysitting. Our Engish speaking, professional babysitters will take care of your child in your hotel room. We can provide babysitting services for children from 3-months old. This service is perfect for parents who would like to enjoy the Kyoto nightlife.
Kyoto with Kids Family Tours
For the traveler who wants to make great memories with their family, Kyoto with Kids Family Tours is for you. Local moms have chosen spots the entire family can enjoy and planned different tours. With the help of the local moms, your burden will be reduced and you will have the opportunity to communicate with locals.