Aug 28, 2017

Kyoto, a popular place for both tourists and locals*.

*Kyoto was named Best City in the World for the 2014 Travel + Leisure ranking.

To name a few, Kyoto is known for Arashiyama, Kinkaku-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, and many other historic temples and buildings that are national landmarks. Kyoto is also known for festivals. There are four major festivals that are held in Kyoto every year: Aoi Festival, Gion Festival, Jidai Festival, and Gozan no Okuribi.

Gozan no Okuribi, also known as Daimonji, is the culmination of the Obon (a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors) festival on August 16, where five giant bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding Kyoto. Starting at 8pm, each bonfires are lit, each with a distinctive Japanese Kanji characters and other motifs. Each of these characters only last for 30 minutes.

The history of his festival is a mystery and we do not know how it started and the meaning behind each character that are lit. What we do know is that hundreds of locals have continued this traditions for hundreds of years.

Many take the ashes from these bonfires home for keeping away bad luck, illness, bad weather, and other unfortunate events. Maybe the belief of the ashes protecting one's self is the reason why this festival continues year after year.

Take a look at the perfect Chigiri-e Project Kit from this blog post, a Maiko (apprentice Geisha) dressed up in traditional Kimono watching the Daimonji.