Daimonji Fire Festival

Daimonji Fire Festival

The Daimonji Fire Festival, also known as the Gozan no Okuribi, takes place yearly on the night of the 16th August. It’s the highlight of the three day long Obon festival and is celebrated by lighting 5 large fires in the shape of kanji characters on different mountains surrounding Kyoto City. It’s been done this way since ancient times as a farewell ceremony for the spirits of dead ancestors who came to earth for the Obon festival.

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How Daimonji takes place

Starting from 8pm, five fires are lit on five different mountains within minutes apart from one another. The first fire is lit on Mount Nyoigatake. It takes the form of the kanji which means both ‘great’ and ‘large’.

The second fire, which starts 5 minutes after the first, is lit on Mount Matsugasaki. This fire takes on the form of the kanji characters which spell out the words ‘wondrous dharma’. The third fire, on Mt. Mukou, simply takes on the form of a boat. On Daihoku-San the kanji for ‘large’ is used again, followed by the symbol of Torri shrine gates on Mount Mandara-San.

From the lighting of the first fire to the last takes approximately 20 minutes and each burns for a total of 30 minutes.

Where and how to enjoy the Daimonji fire festival

There are a number of locations throughout Kyoto from where you can enjoy the Daimonji Fire Festival. We will list the available options below.

Top Floor Restaurants: Many of the downtown Kyoto City hotels have a restaurant on the top floor. This is a great option because most offer a 360 degree view and you can enjoy the views of each mountain fire while having a romantic dinner. If you plan to go this route, be sure to make a reservation well in advance because these restaurants are always fully booked on the night.

Hotel Viewing Spots: Many hotels, especially those in the downtown Nakagyo ward, sell viewing tickets for the night. Ticket prices vary but can get very expensive – especially those who offer views of all five fires.

The Kamo River Banks: Join thousands of other spectators on the banks of Kamo River north from Sanjo station. It’s a lovely and lively atmosphere where you can enjoy good food and drinks with others while enjoying the view of burning kanji on the mountains.

Event details

When? 16th August
Where? Kyoto City
Time 8PM – 9PM
Admission Fee Free
Official Website https://narashikanko.or.jp/en/event/naradaimonjiokuribi/

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