By using this site, you agree to the use of cookies.
See our privacy policy for more information. This site uses machine translation, so content is not always accurate. Please note that translated content may differ from the original English page.

  1. Home
  2. Local Info
  3. Destinations by Category
  4. Season & Festivals
  5. Gozan Okuribi

Gozan Okuribi

Gozan Okuribi

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 around this time of the year. 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” (large), “Myoho” (Buddha’s remarkable teaching), “Funagata” (ship), “Toriigata” (shrine gate) and “Hidaridaimonji” (large on Mt. Hidaridaimonjiyama). These five characters are lit off one after another from 8 p.m.

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 off the fire bed of each mountain.

The lit off time of  five characters:
August 16
Daimonji (large):8:00P.M.
Myoho (Buddha’s remarkable teaching):8:05P.M.
Funagata (ship):8:10P.M.
Hidaridaimonji (large on Mt. Hidaridaimonjiyama)
Toriigata (shrine gate):8:20P.M.

Gozan Okuribi Map【PDF】

Related Articles

Major Festivals and Annual Events in Kyoto