Kyoto Shimbun 2014.8.16 News

Rain Stops and Bonfires Emerge
Gozan Okuribi

"Gozan Okuribi" bonfires, an event to send off the spirits of ancestors who were welcomed during the O-bon holidays, was held in Kyoto City on the night of August 16. Although it rained heavily during the day, it had mostly stopped by evening. The lighting up started as scheduled on each of the mountains, staging a magnificent scene of flames burning the night sky.

At Mt. Nyoigatake, Sakyo Ward, members of the Daimonji preservation society covered up the piled-up gomagi, or sacred firewood, with sheets lest it get wet while waiting for the lighting up. On the dusk-covered mountain, Tadashi Yamamoto, the director, said "This is the ancestral event of the Bon festival. We are determined to light up on 16th regardless of anything."

At 8 p.m., the "Daimonji" was lit up. This year the light-up schedule was partially changed for the first time in 51 years. The bonfires were lit up from east to west, in the order of "Myoho," "Funagata," "Hidari Daimonji," and "Toriigata," at five-minute intervals.

The vicinities of the Kamo River and Arashiyama, which are vantage points, were full of families and young people in "Yukata," or casual, summer cotton kimono. As they lamented the passing summer, some put their hands together towards the deep red bonfires glowing in the darkness to remember the deceased, while others took photos of the bonfires. According to the Kyoto Prefecture Police announcement, the number of people reached approximately 40,000, or only half the number as last year.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= "Daimonji" emerges clearly in the night sky after the rain let up (August 16, eastward view from Demachi-bashi Nishizume, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto)