Baikasai梅花祭

Summary

Geiko, Maiko, tables and crowd during the Baikasai tea ceremony at Kitano Tenmangu shrine.

Tea ceremony pavillion and umbrellas during the Baikasai tea ceremony at Kitano Tenmangu shrine.

An event that combines Shinto spirituality, seasonal plum blossoms, green tea, and lovely maiko and geiko, Kitano Tenmangū's Baikasai (Plum Blossom Festival) on February 25th is a must-see for anyone lucky enough to be in Kyoto!

Kitano Tenmangū in northwestern Kyoto deifies the god of scholarship, Tenjin, and serves as the head shrine of more than 10,000 Tenmangū shrines around the country. In the ancient past Tenjin was a man named Sugawara no Michizane who died in exile in Dazaifu, Kyūshu.

Geiko Naosome during the Baikasai at Kitano Tenmangu shrine.

A poet as well as a politician and scholar, Sugawara no Michizane wrote a particularly famous poem before he left the capital, urging his beloved plum tree to continue blossoming in his absence, which is why there are so many ume (plum trees) planted on the Kitano Tenmangū grounds. Each year on the anniversary of Michizane's passing, the shrine performs important rites in order to remember the mortal man and pacify his deified spirit within the main hall.  A more cheerful atmosphere reigns outside amidst the plum blossoms, as geiko and maiko from the Kamishichiken District turn out in colorful kimono and plum-themed hair accessories, serving tea in an outdoor ceremony.

The nodate (outdoor tea ceremony) is particularly popular, as it is an opportunity not just to see a geisha up close, but to be served tea and even exchange a few words. These traditional Kyoto idols are popular worldwide for their grace and beauty, yet most people do not have the connections in order to actually spend time in their company at a teahouse or a banquet. But at the Baikasai, a ticket worth 1,500 yen secures you entry to the outdoor tea ceremony, which comes with a traditional sweet, a cup of tea, and a chance to see these culture-preserving women at work. However, be warned that the serving cap is set at 3,000 and the tea ceremony is only conducted from 10:00 to 15:00.

Things to See/Do

  • Shinto Ritual

  • Tea Ceremony

Schedule

February 25th, 10:00 - 15:00

Notice: In 2021, the tea ceremony with geiko and maiko was canceled to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Access

Kitano Tenmangū

Address

〒602-8386 京都府京都市 上京区馬喰町

TEL 075-461-0005
FAX 075-461-6556
WEB http://www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp/top_en.php

Admission

  • General Admission: Free
  • Treasure Hall:
  • General Admission: ¥300
  • Junior High School, High School: ¥250
  • Primary School: ¥150

Hours

  • General Admission: 09:00 – 17:00 (07:00 – 21:00 on the 25th each month)
  • Closed: No closing days

Transportation

  • From Kyoto Station City Bus Route 50 or 101 ⇒ Kitano Tenmangū-mae Bus Stop
  • From Demachiyanagi Station City Bus Route 203 ⇒ Kitano Tenmangū-mae Bus Stop
  • From Kitano Hakubaichō Station ⇒ 10 minutes walking