The Daimonji Fire Festival

The Daimonji Fire Festival - Gozan no Okuribi
Takeshi Kuboki from Amagasaki, Japan, Daimonji (3826444236), CC BY 2.0

The Daimonji Fire Festival, also known as the Gozan no Okuribi, takes place yearly on the night of the 16th of August. It’s the highlight of the three-day-long Obon festival and is celebrated by lighting five 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.

Topics Covered

  • How Daimonji takes place
  • Where and how to enjoy the festival
  • Event details

Video is owned and created by Karesansui50.

How the Daimonji Fire Festival takes place

At 20:00, five fires are lit on five different mountains within minutes apart from one another. The first fire, on Mount Nyoigatake, takes the form of the kanji character, 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, on Mt. Mukou, 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 about 20 minutes and each burns for 30 minutes.

Where and how to enjoy the Daimonji fire festival

Daimonji Fire Festival
HmanJp, Daimonji kanao, CC0 1.0

There are several locations throughout Kyoto 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. It’s 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 of 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 in the mountains.

Event details

When?16th August
Where?Kyoto City
Time8PM – 9PM
Admission FeeFree
Official Website

Related Content

Find out about other festivals and events in Kyoto such as the Toshiya and the Gion Matsuri festivals.

Also, check out our Kyoto travel guide for various other attractions and activities in and around this beautiful city.