November 2024 in Kyoto, Japan: Special Events, Crowds & Weather

November 2024 is Kyoto’s peak fall color dates, great weather, special events & night illuminations, and festivals at temples & shrines. Despite heavy crowds, it’s an excellent month to visit Japan, and you’ll have too many choices for seasonal things to do during a November trip to Kyoto.

Note that exact dates listed below are tentative and based on historical precedent, as calendars of events for November 2024 haven’t yet been released by many temples, shrines, etc. However, schedules usually change with only a variance of a few days–if you’re planning now, be sure to check back later when this is fully updated.

We visited Kyoto last November and were pleasantly surprised by just how much was already back to normal–only a few events were cancelled. By the time November 2024 rolls around, it’s likely that everything will be restored. As with any normal year, there will be some variance in events, as some temples opt to host nighttime illuminations and others opt against it, but that always happens.

As with last year, we’ll be in Kyoto throughout November 2024, attending special events, visiting popular spots, and checking out things throughout the city. Subscribe to our FREE email newsletter and stay tuned for updates and on-the-ground reports.

If you’re still debating on the timing of your trip, see our guide: When to Visit Kyoto, Japan: Best & Worst Times in 2024. That’ll give you a range of recommendations–this post is better suited to those who have already narrowed down their range of dates and want more info specifically about November in Kyoto.

With that said, let’s start by taking a look at the autumn weather in Kyoto…

November Weather in Kyoto

While average temperatures aren’t as perfect in November as in October, they’re still pretty good. In fact, we’d contend that November is the superior weather month, all things considered, as it’s further removed from typhoon season, so there’s almost no risk of that or storms impacting your plans.

By the numbers, Kyoto weather in November can be a bit on the chilly side, especially later in the month. Nevertheless, it’s still pretty pleasant most of the month. The average low temperature is 45º F (as compared to 55º in October) and the high temperature is 63º (v. 73º in October). There’s an average of 3.2 inches of rainfall, versus 4.8 inches in October. Daylight is decreasing in November, with only 10.5 hours per day.

November is firmly fall in Kyoto, and with that comes autumn leaves changing colors. Fall colors season starts around the middle of the month, with the peak occurring in late November through early December. Of course, this varies by elevation and weather conditions–check out our Japan Fall Colors Forecast & Autumn Foliage Viewing Guide.

The veritable cornucopia of colors in Kyoto is incredible. The resplendence of the Japanese maple trees and shades of crimson the leaves of these maple leaves take on is almost unbelievable. The abundant reds, yellows, and oranges juxtaposed against temples and shrines is stunning. It makes the otherwise unbearable crowds perfectly bearable. Speaking of which…

November Crowds in Kyoto

In a normal year, November is one of the busiest months in Kyoto.

With that said, not all dates are equal. To the contrary, it’s more like a ‘tale of two months’ with the first half being shoulder season and the second half being peak season.

The ‘sweet spot’ for moderate crowds and a decent amount of color is the second week of November. This is one of our very favorite times to visit Japan in general, and Kyoto in particular. However, if you fly too close to the sun, you’re going to get burned. The longer you stick around in mid-November, the more likely you are to experience heavy crowds.

When it comes to fall foliage, it’s better to go early than to go late for the exact same reason. Missing peak fall colors in early to mid November means a kaleidoscope of greens, yellows, and red foliage. Missing peak in mid-December means some reds and barren trees. The added upside is that you’ll have better weather earlier in November than later in the month or in December.

With November crowds out of the way, let’s turn to special events…

November Special Events in Kyoto

In addition to past dates, we are also including links to the website of each Kyoto special event. Those links will be helpful if you want to monitor 2024 dates. While English resources like this site are great, most temples regularly update their websites. We would suggest double-checking those sites to ensure that the seasonal events or festivals are still occurring a day or two before you go.

For example, one year some of the Higashiyama temples abruptly canceled nighttime illuminations because a wild boar had been spotted in the area. Bad weather and typhoons have also caused some festivals to be cancelled, often at the very last minute. As such, it’s always a good practice to double check and confirm things before you visit.

Another thing to note is that our calendar just scratches the surface on special events and festivals in Kyoto. As we stress elsewhere, seasonality is extremely important to Kyotoites. It’s not just about the four seasons, but every little nuance in the calendar, changing of the scenery, and so on.

Suffice to say, if you’re particularly keen on attending a seasonal event while in Kyoto, there is most certainly one occurring, irrespective of your travel dates. If you don’t see something listed below, we’d suggest stopping by one of the Kyoto Tourist Information Centers (there are convenient locations in Kyoto Station, Higashiyama, downtown, etc–find them via Google Maps) and inquiring. Reps there are fluent in English and incredibly knowledgeable.

October 19 to December 9 – Kodaiji Lightscape – As we note in our full post about Kodaiji Temple, this is our #1 nighttime illumination in all of Kyoto (we have lots of photos of the event in that post, for what it’s worth). It’s also the longest-running nighttime illumination, which is in large part because it’s less about fall colors and more about a high-tech projection mapping show, illuminated bamboo forest, and more. Highly recommended. Official website.

September 25 to December 12 – Shokouji Temple Special Views – Shokokuji is the second of the five leading Rinzai Zen temples in Kyoto that were built during the medieval Muromachi Period, and is a ‘living temple’ that is generally not open to the public. During this extended timeframe, several of its buildings are open to the public. Due to its location, we would not recommend this to most tourists. Official website.

October 1 to November 25 – Ninnaji Treasure Hall Opening – Located adjacent to Ryoanji and a modest walk from the Golden Pavilion, Ninnaji is a stunning temple on sprawling grounds. Its Sacred Treasure Hall is not normally open to the general public. Official website.

October 1 to December 10 – Rurikoin Temple Fall Opening – Relatively unknown to people outside of Japan, Rurikoin is incredibly popular with Japanese tourists. Famed for the way its foliage reflects and colors the interior of the temple, expect long lines at this temple in Northern Kyoto–and a steep 2,000 yen admission fee. Official website.

October 26 to December 2 – Shorenin Temple Light Up – The ethereal blue lighting on the ground is the highlight of this experience, with fall colors being secondary (more like “third-ary” after the bamboo grove). We like Shorenin because it’s nestled between Chionin and Kodaiji, making it an easy stop on a nighttime tour of Higashiyama illuminations. Recommended. Official website.

October 27 to December 9 – Toji Temple Illumination – We aren’t normally huge fans of Kyoto’s iconic pagoda, but during its spring and fall evening illuminations, it’s a different story. Not only are the reflected views spectacular, but you also get rare access to certain temple halls. Even considering the relatively steep 1,000 yen fee (as compared to other illuminations), we think it’s worth the money. Recommended. Official website.

November 1-10 – Gion Odari – Held at the Gion Kaikan Theatre, this is a public dance performed by the geiko and maiko of Kyoto. Each of the city’s geisha districts performs such an event, but most happen in spring during cherry blossom season. This is the lone event preceding the heart of fall colors season, with tickets costing 4,000 yen (or 4,500 with green tea and a sweet) for two performances are held each day at 13:30 and 16:00. Highly recommended. Official website.

November 2 to December 2 – Chionin Temple Illumination – Despite the ongoing refurbishment project, Chionin will conduct its annual night lighting, with Yuzenen Garden, the main gate, and two halls illuminated. It’s an interesting option if you have several days in Kyoto, but otherwise, we’d stick with alternatives in Higashiyama.

November 3 to December 2 – Eikando Temple Illumination Our #1 temple for fall colors in Kyoto (see more in that post), we suggest visiting Eikando both during the day and at night for its evening illumination (this requires paying two separate admission fees) as different areas are open during day versus at night. Highly recommended. Official website.

November 3-25 – Kibune Autumn Leaves Lantern Festival – Fall colors are illuminated nightly along the Eizan Railway Line, around Kifune Shrine, and along Kibune Way. Located north of the city, Kibune and Kurama have stunning fall colors, and Kuramadera is our #2 temple in Kyoto. This is a free event, save for train fare. Highly recommended. Official website.

November 8 – Kanikakuni Festival – Maiko and geiko come to offer flowers in front of the memorial statue of Isamu Yoshii, a famous poet and playwright who loved Gion, on the Shirakawa. This is a popular event for geisha-spotting, and photographers line the canal from around 11 a.m. hoping to catch a glimpse of the performers on their way to pay their respects.

November 9 to December 2 – Konkai Komyoji Temple Illumination – More commonly known as Kurodani Temple, this geographically prominent yet ‘hidden’ gem temple is opening its Shiun Garden to the public during the day, and offering a nighttime illumination with live Koto performances at night. Official website.

November 9 to December 2 – Daikakuji Temple Illumination – This is a very different kind of fall nighttime illumination, as it’s primarily a water screen projection show on the large pond outside the inner temple grounds. We love Daikakuji Temple, and this would make for a solid option after a day in Arashiyama. Official website.

November 9 to December 2 – Hogonin Temple Illumination – This is a subtemple of the famed Tenryuji, and features a promenade style garden with views of Mount Arashiyama in the background. Official website.

Mid-November to Early December – Unryuin Temple Illumination – Unryuin Temple’s nighttime illumination is one of our favorites (see photos of the event in that post), and that’s in part because it’s under the radar–you won’t see many (if any) other tourists here. Recommended. Official website.

November 17 to December 2 – Kiyomizudera Temple Illumination – One of Kyoto’s most popular fall nighttime illuminations, Kiyomizudera’s hillside looks absolutely stunning covered in fiery red momiji. We love this event, and try to do it every year in spring and fall (see our photos in that post). Highly recommended. Official website.

November 21 – Kobo-san Flea Market – This flea market at Toji Temple features a range of antiques and used items, and draws big crowds. If you’re in town mostly to see the towering pagoda here, choose another day.

November 23 – Labor Thanksgiving Day – Not so much a ‘special event’ you’ll want to see, but quick words of caution here: the long weekend around Labor Thanksgiving Day is the busiest time of the year in Kyoto–period. We’d advise finding under-the-radar things to do if you’re visiting this weekend. Avoid the popular temples, buses, and Kyoto Station.

November 25 – Tenjin-san Flea Market – Held on the 25th of every month, this large flea market at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is incredibly popular and has a wide variety of antiques, used items, and food for sale. As we discuss in our post about Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, we attended the flea market last November and it was absolute chaos.

If you’re planning a trip to Japan that includes Kyoto, we recommend starting by consulting our Ultimate Guide to Kyoto, Japan to plan all aspects of our vacation. You should also check out our other posts about Japan for ideas on other places to visit! 

Your Thoughts

Have you attended any November special events in Kyoto? What did you think of the experience? Would you recommend it to a first-timer visiting Japan? Anything you’re looking forward to this month in Kyoto? Any thoughts or tips of your own to add? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!

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9 replies
  1. Ket
    Ket says:

    Hi, I love the detailed information on your website, it’s very helpful in planning. By the way, I believe Shoren-in website says the night viewing is cancelled this year.

  2. TimWarp
    TimWarp says:

    You’ll be in Kyoto in Nov, 23? Was this written before Baby Girl Bricker??? While I’d love to run into you, I’m skeptical that you’ll be there! Anyway, I’m thrilled to have this list, and am busy cross-referencing temples to maps to calendars.

  3. Sean
    Sean says:

    Hello! I see that Labor Thanksgiving Day is a Thursday this year, does that mean Nov 23-16 will be super busy in Kyoto?

  4. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    ANA and JAL have severely limited award seats. United and Delta much less so. Our airport ORD has nothing available next spring. ORD is usually the easiest city to get award seats. But more importantly, fares to Japan, even coach fares are really high. $1600-1700 for coach is way too high. Even with limited flights, many flights are half sold or even less. One would think with the really favorable exchange rate, that bookings would have exploded. But that has not happened. From my estimation, Japan will be very uncrowded this Fall. I’m not even sure Spring will have many foreign visitors.

  5. Nicole Walters
    Nicole Walters says:

    Tom, We’ll be in Japan this November… Right now scheduled to be in Kyoto from late afternoon Nov 23 until Nov 27… I want to do your 3 day fall colors itinerary but I’m a little worried about the holiday weekend.

    I could change our hotels but since I booked a great rate in advance it would cost us an extra $45/night to instead stay in Kyoto from Nov 19-23rd. Do you think we’d be able to see much more if we changed to the earlier dates? In the grand scheme of this trip budget I’m willing to spend the money if it will make for an enjoyable experience!

    [If we change dates we would travel to Hiroshima on the 23rd and Miyajima on the 24th before heading to Osaka for a couple nights.]

  6. Troy Perry
    Troy Perry says:

    Wonderful post and super helpful for our first trip to Kyoto this week!
    Do you have any suggestions about how to efficiently work Kibune into a day’s schedule? I understand it takes some time to get up there. Maybe early evening and come back later for Eikando?


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