Obon & the Daimonji bonfire festival

Obon & the Daimonji bonfire festival

In Kyoto, the Obon festival climaxes with the lighting of giant bonfires to guide the ancestors back to the spirit world.

Every August for 500 years the festival of Obon, an ancient Buddhist tradition to honour the dead, takes place throughout Japan. For three days in August it is believed that the spirits of the ancestors come down to earth to visit family altars.  Obon has evolved into a family reunion and companies give workers time off to travel to their home towns to visit family graves. 
 
Kyoto boasts the most visually impressive spectacle of Obon: the lighting of five mountain bonfires at 8pm on August 16th. The daimonji fires, in the shape of kanji characters measuring up to 160m wide, are lit one by one by Kyoto monks. It's believed that the lights help guide the ancestors back to the spirit world. Down on street level Kyotoites dressed in their best yukata (summer kimono) line the river banks at Demachiyanagi to see the fires and enjoy festival snacks and beers.

This is one of the most spectacular sights of the summer in Japan. Ask your consultant to recommend the best places to see the festival or if you would like an extra special experience with an exclusive viewing position then let us know and we will talk to some of our local contacts.

When to go: The lighting of the bonfires takes place every year on August 16th at 8pm, although we recommend arriving earlier to ensure you get a good spot.

Obon & the Daimonji bonfire festival

located in Kyoto

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