Buddhist fire festival warms Kyoto

Opodo Travel News, July 16, 2007

Kyoto, Japan -- Daimonji Gozan Okuribi, the spectacular Buddhist fire ceremony will be performed across Japan on 16 August to mark the end of Obon, the Japanese festival of the dead.

<< The spectacularv "Daimonji Gozan Okuribi" on Mount Nyoigatake, Kyoto, Japan 

During Obon, memorial services are held for the dead, graves are visited and the souls of ancestors are welcomed back to this world.

On the final day of Oban, bonfires are built on the slopes of five hills surrounding Kyoto to bid farewell to the spirits making the journey back to the realm of the dead.

Huge torches are arranged in the form of the Buddhist characters for 'dai' (great), 'myo' and 'ho' (together meaning Buddha's law), pictographs of a 'torri' (Shinto gateway) and a smaller dai.

The most famous of these fires (okuribi) is the dai on Mount Nyoigatake in eastern Kyoto, whose flames rise into the night sky, visible from almost anywhere in the city. As the fires burn, Buddhist priests recite sutras and scriptures, holding services to console the returning spirits.