Kyoto Gozan Okuribi

Kyoto lights up in roaring flames

The city of Kyoto, known for its rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, comes alive every year in August with the mesmerizing spectacle of the Kyoto Gozan Okuribi. This ancient tradition, also known as the Daimonji Festival, is a captivating event that attracts locals and tourists alike. With its five blazing fires atop the mountains of Kyoto, the Gozan Okuribi adds more heat to the hottest month of the year.

The Gozan Okuribi ceremony takes place annually on August 16th, beginning at 8 p.m. It marks the end of the week-long Obon holiday, a time when it is believed that deceased ancestors return from the afterlife to visit the living. The fires of the Gozan Okuribi serve as a guiding light for the spirits, helping them find their way back to heaven.

To witness this spectacular event, the best place to be is in the center of the city. Locals and visitors gather along the banks of the Kamo River, between Sanjo and Imadegawa Streets, to see the first fire lit on Daimonji-yama. The view from this location offers a breathtaking panorama of the five fires illuminating the night sky.

The five bonfires are strategically placed atop the large mountains surrounding the city on the north, east, and west sides. Three of the fires are shaped like Chinese characters, representing different aspects of Buddhism. The other two fires are in the shape of a shrine gate and a boat, symbolizing the journey of the spirits back to the afterlife. These fires are enormous and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring sight.

The timing of the fires is well-coordinated, adding to the spectacle of the event. The first fire is set at 8 p.m. on Daimonji, the main mountain of the festival, located in the Higashiyama district. The four other fires are set on their respective mountains in counterclockwise order every 5 minutes. The fires burn for approximately 40 minutes each. The peak viewing time is at 8:30 p.m., when all five fires can be seen simultaneously.

The Gozan Okuribi is not only a visual feast, but it is also deeply rooted in the cultural and religious traditions of Kyoto. It is a time for the people of Kyoto to come together and celebrate their heritage. The festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world, who come to witness this unique event and experience the vibrant atmosphere of Kyoto during the summer.

In addition to the Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto offers a plethora of other cultural and historical attractions that are worth exploring. From the iconic Kinkaku-ji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion, to the serene Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, there is no shortage of breathtaking sights to see in Kyoto. The city is also renowned for its traditional tea ceremonies, where visitors can immerse themselves in the art of tea appreciation and learn about the customs and rituals associated with this ancient practice.

For those interested in Japanese history and spirituality, Kyoto is a treasure trove of temples, shrines, and gardens. The Fushimi Inari Taisha, with its famous thousand torii gates, is a must-visit destination for any traveler. The Kiyomizu-dera Temple, perched on a hillside with panoramic views of the city, is another popular attraction that offers a glimpse into the rich history and architectural beauty of Kyoto.

To make the most of your visit to Kyoto, it is recommended to plan ahead and allocate sufficient time to explore the various attractions the city has to offer. Whether you are interested in art, history, nature, or spirituality, Kyoto has something to offer for everyone.

In conclusion, the Kyoto Gozan Okuribi is a mesmerizing event that showcases the cultural and historical richness of Kyoto. The sight of the five blazing fires atop the mountains is a sight to behold and a testament to the deep-rooted traditions of the city. By witnessing this ancient tradition, visitors can not only experience the beauty of the event but also gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual beliefs and customs of Kyoto. With its captivating atmosphere and stunning natural beauty, Kyoto is truly a city that ignites the senses and leaves a lasting impression on all who visit.

Address And Maps Location:

Nyoigadake, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu

Find Location And Direction On Google Maps

Subscribe, follow