Gozan Fire Festival

Date: Starting from 8pm on 16th August

Halfway up the mountains which surround the city of Kyoto, beds of fire are prepared and lit, making for the most magnificent of Kyoto’s August Obon festivities. Records from the beginning of the Edo era show that the Daimonji Festival was already in existence, and it is said that the tradition originated when the monk Kobo-Daishi, praying for an end to plague, lit up the character representing ‘large’ in flame.

The three strokes of the (dai ‘large’) character are respectively 1st stroke 80m, 2nd stroke 160m and 3rd stroke 120m long, and may be seen from every part of the city. The five fires on Gozan – Daimonji, Myoho, Funagata, Hidari-daimonji and Torii-gata are lit simultaneously, painting the night sky a bright red, and creating one of Kyoto’s most memorable summer scenes.