From experimental performing arts to tea ceremony staples, we are happy to introduce a plethora of cultural activities to keep you busy this fall. With a good mix of traditional and contemporary entertainment on offer, Japan’s old capital takes center stage as the leaves turn red.
All events on this list are produced under the Japan Cultural Expo umbrella. View a more extensive list on the expo’s website.
1. Kyoto Experiment 2022
While you’re doing the rounds of some of the numerous installations across the country, get your fix of performing arts in Kyoto. On its 13th iteration in 2022, the Kyoto Experiment 2022 festival is an ode and celebration of performing arts that break the current trends and conventions in favor of — you guessed it — the experimental. In their own words, “the festival tries to create new forms of dialogue.” The festival’s main venue is ROHM Theatre Kyoto and the festival meeting point is ROHM Square.
The 2022 theme is “new teku teku,” teku teku being the Japanese onomatopoeia for the sounds of footsteps. Through this theme, participating artists and exhibitors from Japan and abroad will explore walking and how it relates to how we, as humans, share space and time.
When: Oct 1–23
See the full list of participating artists on the Kyoto Experiment website.
2. Chanoyu: Tea in the Cultural Life of Kyoto
Traditional tea ceremonies are one of the top cultural experiences you can participate in when exploring Kyoto — the city isn’t nicknamed the “cultural capital of Japan” for nothing.
Hosted at the Kyoto National Museum, “Chanoyu: Tea in the Cultural Life of Kyoto” dives deep into this rich traditional Japanese custom. Exploring the various components of chanoyu (the art of Japanese tea ceremony) — including the history, ceramics and unique aesthetics — lovers of Kyoto, traditional practices and Japanese tea ceremony will leave this exhibition savvier and more sophisticated.
When: Oct 8–Dec 4
Learn more about the exhibition on the Kyoto National Museum website.
3. YORU ZEN – Find Your Own Zen
Kennin-ji is often cited as one of Kyoto’s most important Zen temples, but this doesn’t stop the monks from putting an unexpected twist on their Zen meditation sessions.
In “Yoruzen: Japan in Harmony with Nature,” a limited-time series of evening events produced by Canon, the old merges with the new thanks to original projection mapping works displayed within the ancient temple, MR (mixed reality) installations and specially programmed AR experiences. Collectively, these will help you learn more about the deep relationship between Japanese people, the spirit of Zen and the history of Kennin-ji,
Visitors can also enjoy the temple’s traditional artwork, including a high-resolution copy of the Hojo sliding doors painting by Kaiho Yusho and a work by Kyoto-born Tamura Gekkori.
When: Oct 15-30
Learn more about Kennin-ji via the temple’s official website.
4. Kasagake Ritual at Kamigamo Jinja
There aren’t many Shinto rituals that come with helpful English explanations and contextualization. This one, however, held in Kyoto this October, checks all the right boxes.
The old capital’s Kamigamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and appears on the list of the seventeen Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto. Every autumn, the kasagake ritual takes place, where archers on horseback shoot arrows while praying for world peace and happiness. It is the only kasagake performance dedicated to the gods in Japan.
Kasagake, a type of martial art that was performed here 800 years ago, features archers on horseback that shoot at targets to the lower right and lower left from their galloping mounts. It falls under the more technically challenging variations of Japanese archery and is one that figured among the crucial battle skills during the Kamakura Period (1185–1333). During this event, attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about this sacred martial art and tradition, as well as meet participating archers.
When: Oct 16
This event will also be live-streamed here.
Learn more about this event via the official website.
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Feature image credit: Horseback Archery/Japan Equestrian Archery Association・Archer Asako Yoshida of Takeda School. Kamigamo-jinja Kasagake Ritual. 2017. Kamigamo-Jinja.