The quiet town of Miyama, nestled in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture, comes alive each winter as it transforms into a stunning spectacle of light. The village’s annual Yukitouro – or snow lantern festival – sees the idyllic thatched roof houses overlaid with a luminous blanket of handmade snow lanterns, Japanese lanterns, flower-patterned and LED lanterns.
Experiencing the Snow Lantern Festival
A Spectacle of Light Amidst the Snow-Clad Village
Miyama’s unique landscape offers an enchanting backdrop for this festival. Aged over 200 years, the traditional farmhouses or ‘thatched houses’, numbering nearly 200 across the region, bear a fascinating look with illuminations piercing through the shroud of snowfall. More than 30 of such traditional dwellings concentrated in Kayabuki no Sato populates this fairytale hamlet.
With 18 key locations around town chosen for illumination during the festival, the whole village is set aglow creating an unmissable spectacle of light and color. The illuminated thatch coupled with picturesque winter scenes draws thousands of visitors annually to this otherwise quaint hamlet.
Attractions and Activities
Not merely a feast for the eyes, visitors to Miyama can partake in creating their own snow lanterns. This immersive experience allows participants to express their unique creativity, with each handmade lantern adding to the overall glow of the festival. It’s one of the most exciting Kyoto events in January.
Additionally, there is an exciting culinary treat to go along with visual grandeur. Food stalls dotting the venue serve native delicacies promoting Miyama’s famous local produce of fresh vegetables and natural waters.
Home Away from Home: Stay At Thatched-Roof Houses
For those looking for an extended immersion into Miyama’s serene rural life, several traditional houses in Kayabuki no Sato double up as ‘Ryokans’ or Japanese Inns. Visitors can enjoy their stay within these humble yet cozy accommodations ran by local inhabitants – primarily elderly farmers, carpenters and thatch-roof builders.
Located just north of Kyoto City, Miyama village is under an hour away by car from Kyoto station. While taking the drive to or from Fukui Prefecture; taking a detour to this little hidden gem provides a scenic break.
The district is also known for its remarkable fire-safety system which makes these thatched-roof communities stand out compared to other similar sites like Shirakawa-go and Gokayama in Gifu and Ouchijuku in Fukushima.
The winter season undoubtedly brings out a distinct charm of Miyama that contrasts its summer vibrancy yet remains equally captivating owing to initiatives such as Yukitouro.
There are a lot of events in Kyoto. Experience the captivating Yutate Kagura at Jōnangū Shrine in Kyoto, where the mesmerizing boiling water ritual takes place, immersing you in a traditional Japanese event that blends divination, purification, and prayers for good health.