Remembering the Deceased with Gozan Okuribi in KyotoPutting Hands Together as Fires Light in Turn
"Gozan no Okuribi," or a traditional event to send off the spirits of ancestors who were welcomed back during the O-bon holidays, was held on certain mountains of Kyoto City on August 16. People could be seen remembering the deceased and placing their hands together at locations facing the characters and shapes burning on the hillsides.
At 8:00 p.m., bonfires depicting various Chinese characters were lit up in the order of "Daimonji" then "Myoho," both in Sakyo Ward, "Funagata" and "Hidari-Daimonji" both in Kita Ward, and "Toriigata" in Ukyo Ward. On Demachi-bashi Nishizume, in Kamigyo Ward, which fronts the character "Daimonji," families, as well as men and women in "yukata," or cotton summer kimono, had gathered together before sunset to wait for their lighting.
Due to torrential rain last year, it was difficult to confirm the character was lit, so when the character "Dai" on Mt. Nyoigatake emerged stroke by stroke from the darkness, shouts of "beautiful" rose up from the viewers and people took pictures with their cameras and smartphones. According to a Kyoto Prefectural Police announcement, the turnout on that day was approximately 80,000 people, representing an increase of 50,000 from last year.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)