Kyoto Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto

Gozan Okuribi (Mountain Bonfire) is a summer tradition that is also counted in the four major events in Kyoto. It is said that traditional events in Kyoto to be held in Bon Festival will send an ancestral spirit. Fire is lit on five mountains in Kyoto City on August 16 every year, and each letter is formed. Among them, “Daimonji” (the Chinese character is meaning is “big”) is also a symbol of Kyoto, so for that reason it is often called Daimonji-yaki. From the east to the west, “Daimonji” is first ignited, in the order of “Myoho”, “Boat shape”, “left Daimonji”, “Torii type”, it is lit for about 30 minutes.

The origins of Gozan Okuribi are said to be both the Heian era and the Muromachi era, and the theories are divided. By the way, “Kyoto Gozan” which represents Jikaku (temple ranking) of the temple is different thing. Gozan Okuribi’s “Gozan” (Five Mountains) are Mt. Daimonji, Mt. Matsugasakinishiyama, Mt. Matsugasakihigashiyama, Mt. Nishikamofunayama, Mt. Hidari – Daimonji, Mt. Mandara. Even though there are six mountains, it is five. “Myo” and “ho” of “Myoho” are counted as one mountain.

In order to see all these five letters in one place, we need to watch from a high place away. It seems that only Kyoto Tower and the Shogun Observatory are the only places to see all Bonfire in Kyoto city. These two can only participate in reservation and tour.

When “Daimonji” emerges in the east sky on August 16th at 8 pm, it is the start of Gozan Okuribi. Then, every five minutes, “Myoho”, “Boat shape”, “left Daimonji”, and “Torii type” start to light, and the ancestor’s spirit is sent off. The highlight of such Bonfire is the moment of a character and a form being lit and coming floating to darkness. When the fire is lit one after another and the letters are completed, applause is generated with cheers.

On 16th the same day as Gozan Okuribi, “Toro Nagashi” (floating lanterns on the water) is taking place at Togetsukyo Bridge in Arashiyama. The way the orange Toro (lantern) flows slowly through the river is very fantastic. It feels like time flows quietly. Since Toro is sold for 1, 000 yen, if you have the opportunity, please experience it. Please pray for the soul of your ancestors and spend a wonderful night in Bon Festival.


Name:Kyoto Gozan Okuribi
Address:Matsugasakihigashiyama Kyoto Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-0946 Japan
Access:“Daimonji-yaki” (Mt. Nyoigatake)
Keihan Outo-sen Line “Jingumarutamachi-eki Station” (within a short walking distance from this station)
Tel:(+81) 75-213-1717 (Kyoto-shi Tourism Association)
Official site:

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