Apr. 27, 2020 UPDATE
Gozan Okuribi- 五山送り火 -
It will be crowded as it is a popular event. We suggest that you search the best spots to enjoy the fire before the event day. It may be a bit hard to join Daimoku Dance as there are mainly local people attending for the dance.
Shimogamo Shrine & Kitayama Popular
1396 10 8.2 2 reviews
VenueThe entire Kyoto City
Story & Recommendation
Bonfires on the mountains illuminates Kyoto’s summer
You may be surprised that the mountain is burning by looking at this picture! This is called “Gozan Okuribi” which is one of the four main traditional events in Kyoto. “Okuribi” means “Sending fire” which is for sending the dead souls to the heaven. 5 kinds of figures and characters on the mountains located in west, north and east of Kyoto are emerged by the burning firewood. Gozan Okuribi is held in the season called Obon in Japan. Normally, July or August are regarded as Obon season. In Kyoto, Obon is in the middle of August for 4 days. It is believed that the ancestors will come back to this world and their families welcome them in their house. On the last day of Obon, the ancestors will go back to the world after death. Therefore, there is a custom that people have traditionally send them by the fire all around Japan. The characteristics of Okuribi in Kyoto is to depict some characters on a large scale on the mountains. There are 5 kinds of Okuribi (sending fire) and this is the most popular one called “Daimonji” in this picture. You may be able to write your wish on the trunk that will be burnt in the mountain (you may need to register for this at the foot of each mountain except "Myo" and "Hou"). Let’s make a wish with your friends and family!
Myo (meaning “marvelous”)
Okuribi starts in order at 8pm. First, “Daimonji” will be ignited and “Myo” (this picture) will be next. This character means “marvelous” and the mountain next to it shows the character “Hou” which means the teaching of Buddha. Combined together, it means "amazing teaching of Buddha". These two will be ignited at the same time. The width of each of the character is about 100 meters (328 feet). Hence, it is very dynamic when two characters on the mountains are burnt at the same time.
There are figures other than Chinese characters. This is the huge ship Okuribi (130 meters on height and 200 meters on width) and will be ignited thirdly. This is regarded as a ship to bring the souls of dead to the world after death. There is one more figure which is “Torii” (shrine gate) other than Chinese characters.
This is the westside Daimonji ignited fourthly. There is Kinkakuji Temple on the foot of the mountain. You can clearly see the figure on the mountain from the street to the Kinkakuji Temple. Therefore, it will surely be fascinating to see the visionary fire even though it is smaller than the eastside Daimonji.
Matsugasaki Daimokuodori & Sashiodori (dance)
On the day before Gozan Okuribi and the last day, Daimokuodori and Sashiodori (dance) will be performed. In Daimokuodori, local people will dance first to the sound of Japanese drums with fans, and visitors are able to join after them. However, as this dance will be performed in the solemn atmosphere, it may be hard to join it. After the Daimokuodori, Sashiodori will be performed. People will dance in a circle around the scaffold in Sashiodori. In Sashiodori, you dance in a circle. All visitors can join from the beginning and you may see men and women of all ages dancing as well.
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Please note that you cannot hike any mountains during the scheduled event days.