Sunday, 4 August 2013

Gozan no Okuribi

Gozan no Okuribi

Gozan no Okuribi (五山送り火), more commonly known as Daimonji (大文字), is a festival in Kyoto, Japan. It is the culmination of the O-Bon festival on August 16, in which five giant bonfires are lit on mountains surrounding the city. It signifies the moment when the spirits of deceased family members, who are said to visit this world during O-Bon, are believed to be returning to the spirit world—thus the name Okuribi (送り火) (roughly, "send-off fire").

Starting at 8 PM, the giant bonfires are lit, each with a distinctive shape. Three of the fires form giant Chinese characters, and two form familiar shapes. The characters, their locations, meanings, and the lighting times are:
The most famous—and the first to be lit—is the character dai (), on Kyoto's Daimonji-yama (大文字山, daimonjiyama?). The other four fires are lit at five to ten-minute intervals, and by 8:30, all the characters can be seen. Each bonfire lasts for 30 minutes.
The best place to view the festival is from the Nakagyo Ward, in the center of the city. Many hotels have Daimonji specials where, for a fee, you can see all five fires. Many people also like to go to the Kamo River, between Sanjo and Imadegawa Streets, for an excellent view of the initial fires.

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