1. It’s a rare chance to experience Kyoto in pleasant weather
Kyoto’s local geography is such that the city is essentially poured into a basin, with mountains rising at its outer edges. This creates especially extreme weather, even for a country where most regions are already swelteringly hot in the summer and piercingly cold in the winter.
But May is one of the few sweet spots in Kyoto’s weather patterns, with afternoon temperatures usually hovering around 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit).
While mild weather is always a plus when you’re sightseeing, it’s especially nice in Kyoto, with its wealth of temples, shrines, and gardens to stroll though and relax in. It’s a lot easier to soak up the atmosphere when you’re not wiping off sweat or shivering from the cold. Plus, by the time May rolls around, most of the pollen that causes Japan’s infamous spring hay fever is no longer swirling around in the air.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the weather by adding one more spot to you itinerary, a unique choice is Kawai Jinja, a shrine located on the grounds of yet another shrine, Shimagamo Jinja. Many shrines are said to convey a specific benefit upon those who visit, and in the case of Kawai Jinja the blessing is supposed to be increased beauty.
Because of this, Kawai Jinja’s ema, boards on which Shinto shrine visitors right the requests they make of the gods, are not the standard pentagonal shape. Instead, they look like a mirror, and visitors draw a (beautiful) face on the wooden surface.