Lighting up the summer night sky, the Gozan no Okuribi Ritual Fires are a part of the religious Obon period, but they have become an iconic image of summer in Kyoto. During Obon, it is believed that the spirits of the departed return to visit the world of the living, before returning at the end of the festivities.
An atmosphere of quiet and solemnity will surround the city, and people from around the world will gather along the Kamogawa riverbanks, and other locations from which to view the fires. Buses offering special okuribi (literally, “send-off fires”) fire-viewing packages also continue to grow in popularity each year.
At 8 p.m, buildings within the city center will turn off their lights, and the “Dai” (meaning “big”) character will rise out of the darkness on Higashiyama’s Mt. Nyoigatake. Next will be the “myo” (meaning “wondrous”) character on Matsugasaki’s Mt. Nishiyama, and “ho” (designed to follow “myo,” and meaning “dharma”) on Mt. Higashiyama. The “Funa-gata” or shape of a boat will appear next on Mt. Funeyama in Nishigamo, then the “hidari daimonji” (a second “big” character) on Mt. Okitayama Daimonjiyama in Kinugasa, and finally, the “Torii-gata” (the shape of a shrine’s torii gate) on Mt. Mandara in Saga.
The Gozan no Okuribi rituals are also meant to signal the end of summer in Kyoto.
Lighting Times for Each Mountain
Daimonji（Mt. Nyoigadake in Higashiyama）: 8:00 p.m.
Myo and Ho (Mt. Nishiyama, Mt. Higashiyama in Matsugasaki）: 8:05 p.m.
Funa-gata（Mt. Funeyama in Nishigamo）: 8:10 p.m.
Hidari Daimonji (Mt. Okitayama Daimomjiyama in Kinugasa): 8:15 p.m.
Torii-gata (Mt. Mandara in Saga): 8:20 p.m.
*Fires at each mountain will last for about 30 minutes.
*Lighting times are subject to change due to weather conditions.
Inquiries: Kyoto Tourist Information Center (on the 2nd floor of JR Kyoto Station) TEL: +81-(0)75-343-0548
［Locations to view each of the mountains lit〕
Daimonji: Banks of the Kamogawa River, and the area between Marutamachi-bashi Bridge and Misono-bashi Bridge
Myo: Kitayama-dori Street, nearby Notre Dame Jogaku-in Girls Middle School
Ho: Banks of Takanogawa River, area north of Takano-bashi Bridge
Funa-gata: Kitayama-dori Street, and northwest of Kitayama O-hashi Bridge
Hidari Daimonji: Nishi Oji-dori Street, and from Shijo north to Kinkaku-ji Temple
Torii-gata: Matsuo-bashi Bridge, Hirosawano Pond, etc.
［Locations from which to see all of the mountains lit］
Free: Funaokayama Park Peak (However, Torii-gata will not be visible from this location)
For a fee: From the roofs of hotels (Some include special “Daimon-ji Viewing” packs, etc.)
Entrust your prayer to a sacred “gomaki” stick
［“Gomaki” Stick Availability］*Fee required
*Periods of sales/availability are subject to change. Should “gomaki” sticks run out, periods of availability may end earlier than planned.
・Daimonji (Mt. Nyoigatake in Higashiyama)
August 15th: Noon – Around 7:00 p.m.
August 16th: 6:00 a.m. – Around 2:00 p.m.
“Gomaki” sticks will be made available in front of Ginkaku-ji Temple (the Silver Pavilion).
・Myo and Ho, Mt. Nishiyama (Mt. Manto-ryu), Mt. Higashiyama (Mt. Daikokuten)
"Gomaki" sticks will not be available.
・Funa-gata (Mt. Funeyama in Nishigamo)
August 3rd-15th: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
August 16th: 8:00 a.m. –10:00 a.m.
*No reception on the 4th and 8th
“Gomaki” sticks will be made available in the foothills at Saiho-ji Temple.
・Hidari Daimonji (Mt. Okitayama Daimomjiyama in Kinugasa)
August 6th: 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
August 15th: 9:00 a.m. –3:00 p.m.
August 16th: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00p.m.
“Gomaki” sticks will be made available in front of the Kinkaku-ji Temple (the Golden Pavilion) gate.
・Torii-gata (Mt. Mandara in Saga)
August 13th-15th: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
August 16th: 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
“Gomaki” sticks will be made available near the eight jizo statues (small Buddhist figures) in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward, on Route 50 near Saga Toriimoto Preserved Street.
August 16 (Thu), 2019
Fires will be lit at 8:00 p.m.
Multiple locations throughout the city