Daimonji

Gozan no Okuribi (五山送り火), better known as Daimonji (大文字), is a summer festival in Kyoto which takes place every year on 16 August. This festival is the climax of the Obon, where six giant bonfires, with five of them having a different sign, are lit on the mountainsides. It is said that when the flames rise, the souls of the deceased spirits will be sent off to the Other World.

Daimonji during daytime

Below are pictures of all the signs.

  1. Daimonji
  2. Myo
  3. Ho
  4. Funa-gata (boat)
  5. Hidari Daimonji (left side Daimonji)
  6. Torii

SCHEDULE

※ Note that while the festival ends at 20:30, some fires can stay up until 21:00.

The schedule of the five signs are as follow:

  • Name➔ Daimonji (大文字)
  • Meaning➔ Big, great
  • Time ➔ 20:00~20:30
  • Place ➔ Daimonji-yama, Nyoigatake
Dai (大)
  • Name➔ Matsugasaki Myo-ho (松ヶ崎妙法)
  • Meaning➔ Myo-ho means wondrous dharma. Myo alone means "strange", "unusual". Ho means "law", "method", "principle".
  • Time ➔ 20:05~20:30
  • Place ➔ Nishi-yama for Myo, and Higashi-yama for Ho
  • Note ➔ "Myo" and "Ho" are on the same mountain, but are roughly 1 km (0.6 mile) apart from each other. Depending on where you stand, it may be hard to see both at the same time.
Myo (妙)
Ho (法)
  • Name➔ Funagata Mandoro (舟形万灯籠)
  • Meaning➔ Boat-shaped lantern
  • Time ➔ 20:10~20:30
  • Place ➔ Funa-yama
Funagata (舟形)
  • Name➔ Hidari Daimonji (左大文字)
  • Meaning➔ Big, great. This is the "left side Daimonji", and is smaller than the Daimonji.
  • Time ➔ 20:15~20:30
  • Place ➔ Hidari Daimonji-yama
Left side Dai (大)
  • Name➔ Torii-gata Shomei (鳥居形松明)
  • Meaning➔ Torii-shaped torch
  • Time ➔ 20:20~20:30
  • Place ➔ Mandara-san
  • Note ➔ Because we don't have a picture of Torii-gata, we drew flames over of the actual torii to show how it would look like.
How Torii (鳥居) would look like