As if Japanese culture weren’t already abundant in traditional practices and events already, Kyoto now has a brand new annual tradition — the Light Festival in Tadasu no Mori at Shimogamo Shrine.

Many travelers might already be familiar with Shimogamo Shrine, but for those who aren’t, it is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To further promote the cultural value of Kyoto, this shrine has become the venue for the new Light Festival event, which will be held from August 17th-31st this year.


Source: teamLab

Two main interactive displays can be enjoyed at the festival — the Resonating Trees, and the Resonating Spheres. Both utilize lights and sound to create ethereal spaces within the shrine that will let you experience the historic location in a way you never could otherwise.

Resonating Trees

As you walk down the road toward the shrine, the surrounding trees will emit a soft light, shining on and off as if they are breathing. Sensing your movement, — and thus your presence — the light of the nearest tree will change colors, and sounds will be heard resonating from it. The lights and sounds will then be passed on to the next tree, and to the one after that, creating a chain reaction of light and sound.


Source: teamLab

A tree lighting up at the far end of the road will indicate the approach of another person, or even a forest animal. Through this, the coordinators of the event hope that people will “become more aware of the existence of other living things in the same space.”

Resonating Spheres

The spheres can be found inside the Sakura Gate of the shrine and are similar to the trees, lighting on and off as if they are living. By hitting, bumping into, or stimulating them in any way, the spheres change colors and emit sounds, while the surrounding spheres eventually follow suit. The glowing bulbs are reminiscent of lantern festivals, and the colored lights around them will transport you to an otherworldly realm.


Source: teamLab

Although Kyoto is far from lacking in traditional events, this new Light Festival brings a sleek modern touch to the historical Shimogamo Shrine. Held only during a limited time in the summer, the Light Festival in Tadasu no Mori is a must-see event among the many Japanese summer festivals you'll be able to enjoy this year.


Source: teamLab

Light Festival in Tadasu no Mori at Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto

Event Days: August 17th~31st, 2016
Location: Shimogamo shrine/Shinmagamo Izumikawa Cho 59, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0807
Hours: 6PM~9:30PM
Free Admission
Official Website

By - grape Japan editorial staff.