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Gozan Okuribi(bonfire)

Gozan Okuribi(bonfire)

Gozan Okuribi (bonfire) held on the evening of August 16 is one of Kyoto’s symbolic religious ceremonies in summer. Okuribi (bonfire) is said to send off ancestors’ spirits to the other side. People believe ancestral spirits come back to their homes from August 13 to 16 (obon). It is said that Gozan Okuribi became an annual event after the Muromachi and Edo periods (15c-17c).

Gozan Okuribi consists of five different characters on five mountains: “Daimonji” (Greater), “Myo-Ho” (Buddha’s remarkable teaching), “Funagata” (ship), “Hidari Daimonji” (left Greater) and “Toriigata” (shrine gate). These five characters are lit one by one every 5 min. from 8 pm.

There are several views on the beginning; however the origin of the ceremony is unknown. Some historical sources say there used to be a custom to send off ancestors’ spirits by throwing burning torches into the air. In contrast, the present Gozan Okuribi adopts the style to light up the fire bed of each mountain.

The light up time of  five characters:
August 16

Daimonji (Greater):8:00P.M.
Myo-Ho (Buddha’s remarkable teaching):8:05P.M.
Funagata (ship):8:10P.M.
Hidari Daimonji (left Greater)
Toriigata (shrine gate):8:20P.M.

Gozan Okuribi Map【PDF】

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