What is "Bon fesival".

Japanese get used to calling it "Obon" rather than "Bon".
This is originally a Buddhist event to hold a memorial service to the spirits of ancestors about the middle of August (mainly 13th to 16th).

The ritual begins with "Mukae-bi"(Welcome fire).

Because the spirits of the ancestors are said to return home at this period, fires at the entrance to homes are lit for that the spirits do not lose their way, and, in addition to lanterns being lit inside homes, vegetables and fruits are set out as offerings.

"Okuri-bi" (Farewell fire) at evening on 16th,

Obon is over, the spirits are sent. This is called "Okuri-bi" (Farewell fire) and fires at the entrance of homes are lit again for seeing off. And in some regions, "Toro Nagashi" (which is also referred to as "Shoro Nagashi") is also a ritual where people hold a memorial service to send back the spirits by floating paper lanterns in a river or the sea.
At Kyoto, "Gonzan-no-Okuribi" is the way for sending back.

If you want to know "Bon fesival" as a summer vacation,
click the page "Summer Holiday and Bon Festival".

"Gozan-no-Okuribi" — Daimonji Bon Fire

It is the Kyotian way of "Okuri-bi" (Farewell fire) for seeing off ancestors’ spirits.
And held on the evening of August 16 as an annual event since the Muromachi or Edo periods (15c-17c).
One of Kyoto’s symbolic religious ceremonies in summer, it is.

* "Kyotian" means: a pure Kyoto citizen. The way, thoughts, values,and taste of the like-Kyoto.  

“Gozan” means five mountains in Japanese.

So "Gozan-no-Okuribi" consists of five different characters on five mountains:
1)“Daimonji” (large), 2)“Myoho” (Buddha’s remarkable teaching), 3)“Funagata” (ship), 4)“Hidaridaimonji” (large on Mt. Hidaridaimonjiyama)“ and  Toriigata” (shrine gate).
These five characters are lit up one after another from 8 p.m.


The character of "Dai"
means large.

The time lit up: 8:00 PM
(about 20 min)

Myo - Ho

These two characters — "Myo" and "Hou" make one word meaning the "Buddha's remarkable teaching."

Why two mountains?
In fact, these characters are placed on adjacent but different mountains (hills). However, we count them one mountain because two make one important word (meaning).

The time lit up: 8:05 PM


Figure of a ship

The time lit up: 8:10 PM


Figure of  the character of "Dai"

"Hidari" means Left in Japanese.

The time lit up: 8:15 PM

Torii gatatop

Figure of a shrine gate

The time lit up: 8:20 PM

Toro-Nagashi is also held
        at  Arashiyama.
7:30PM to 9:00PM

Popular viewing spots

The map below shows the place of Five Mountains and our recommended viewing spots colored-marked respectively.


Some or All

If you want to view some or all characters at one spot, we suggest to go to Funaokayama or Aeon Mall Kyoto Gojo. Kyoto station building and Kyoto tower building are also recommended, but for this year they already have closed the reception.

  • Funaokayama (Funaoka Yama) : Daimonji, Myoho, Funagata, HidariDaimonji.
    You need move around to the best spots for each. Get off at the bus stop "Funaokaya".
  • Aeon Mall Kyoto Gojo : Daimonji, Toriigata, HidariDaimonji,  (doubtfully Myoho and Funagata)
    This is a huge shoping center. Aeon Mall Kyoto Gojo http://kyotogojyo-aeonmall.com/
  • JR Kyoto Station, Sky Way:  All mountains. 
    The application in advance was required by June 19.   
  • Kyoto Tower Building:  All mountains. 
    A dinner reservation was required(JPY 21,000). Already sold out. 

In downtown Kyoto, if you have the building higher enough than others around where you are allowed to go up the roof floor, try to get up there. You may see some mountains. And of course, you also have many possibilities at hotels and restaurants, beer gardens on a roof floor. It is very fun to find your own place for viewing. Enjoy!