Kurama Fire Festival

Kyoto’s Fiery Mountain Festival: Honoring Tradition and Spirits


Kyoto, a city steeped in history and tradition, is known for its vibrant festivals that showcase the rich cultural heritage of japan. One such festival is the Kurama Fire Festival, held in the mountainous village of Kurama on October 22 each year. This festival, which pays homage to the Yuki-jinja Shrine and its spirits, has become one of Kyoto’s most popular fire festivals, attracting locals and tourists alike. With its mesmerizing parade of flaming torches, the Kurama Fire Festival offers a truly majestic sight that captivates the imagination.

Honoring the Past: Yuki-jinja Shrine

The Kurama Fire Festival is deeply rooted in the history and traditions of Kyoto. The festival honors the Yuki-jinja Shrine, which was originally located in Kurama during the early Heian period (794-1185). The shrine was moved to Kurama during a time of war, and the festival is a reenactment of the ceremony held by the local villagers to welcome the kami spirits of the shrine to the village. This historical significance adds a sense of reverence and authenticity to the festival, making it a cherished tradition for the people of Kyoto.

A Family Affair and Rite of Passage

The Kurama Fire Festival is not only a grand spectacle but also a family affair. The procession begins at dusk, with small torches being lit in front of each house. Many families proudly display their heirlooms, such as samurai armor, in their windows, adding a touch of nostalgia and heritage to the festival. Moreover, the festival is considered a rite of passage for the youth of Kurama. Originally an event exclusively for boys, girls now participate as well due to the shrinking population of the village. Children are at the forefront of the procession, holding small torches, followed by teenagers. However, it is the men of the village who take center stage, carrying huge torches that create a fiery spectacle.

Traditional Garb: A Symbol of Cultural Identity

One of the striking aspects of the Kurama Fire Festival is the traditional costumes worn by the participants. Everyone involved in the festival dons traditional attire, including sandals, loincloths, braided rope skirts tied around the waist, and a padded cloth over one shoulder to cushion the torch. This attire not only adds to the visual appeal of the festival but also serves as a symbol of cultural identity. The villagers take great pride in preserving their traditions and passing them down to future generations, and the festival offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Kyoto.

A Huge Bonfire: Lighting up the Night

The highlight of the Kurama Fire Festival is undoubtedly the enormous bonfire created by piling the torches on top of each other. This bonfire serves as the centerpiece of the festival, casting a warm and mesmerizing glow over the village. The festivities start at sunset and last until midnight, providing ample time for visitors to immerse themselves in the magical atmosphere. The crackling of the flames, the scent of burning wood, and the sight of the villagers carrying torches create an unforgettable experience that transports visitors back in time.

How to Get There: A Journey to Remember

The Kurama Fire Festival may be held in a remote mountainous village, but reaching the event venue is relatively easy. From Kyoto Station, visitors can take the JR Nara Line to Tofukuji Station and then transfer to the Keihan Line bound for Demachiyanagi Station. From there, they can transfer to the Eizan Kurama Line and get off at Kurama Station, which is just a short walk away from the festival grounds. It is advisable to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot, as the festival attracts a large crowd each year.


The Kurama Fire Festival is a testament to the enduring spirit of Kyoto and its commitment to preserving its cultural heritage. This fiery spectacle, with its grand parade of torches and traditional costumes, offers a unique glimpse into the past and allows visitors to witness the rich traditions of the people of Kyoto. As one of Kyoto’s most popular fire festivals, the Kurama Fire Festival is not to be missed for anyone seeking an immersive cultural experience. So, mark your calendars and prepare to be captivated by the enchanting allure of Kyoto’s fiery mountain festival.

Address And Maps Location:

1073 Kuramahon-machi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

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