Signaling the end of summer in Kyoto, these torch bonfires are meant to guide the spirits of the dead back to the spirit world.
  Signaling the end of summer, the lighting of 5 torch fires on the five mountains of Kyoto (in the shape of the Chinese character "Dai," meaning "large") is another institution and custom in Kyoto. Along with the Aoi Matsuri, the Gion Matsuri, and the Jidai Matsuri, the Gozan no Okuribi is one of the four main events held in Kyoto every year. Also known as Oshorai-San, it is a traditional religious rite meant to guide the spirits of the dead back to the spirit world. The source of this tradition is not clear, but it probably started in the 17th century. Since then, it has become a fixture among the common people of each age. Torches are laid on the mountainside, and then lit on the evening of the 16th of August every year. The Chinese characters formed by the torch fires lit in turn on the five mountains of the Higashiyama Nyoigatake are in the form of the words "Myo - Ho," "Funagata," "Hidari Daimonji," and "Toriigata." Refer to the references below for more details on the locations and timing of the bonfires.
While there are some limits to what you can see, depending on the location, you can generally see all of the bonfires from any slightly elevated viewing spot around the city. In particular, any location along the banks of the Kamo River north of Marutamachi or from the bridge over the Takano River, gives a view of all five bonfires. The Kyoto Station building (restricted by a lottery conducted prior to the event) and the Kyoto Tower (reservations required) are also recommended viewing spots.
Daimonji   Myo   Ho
Daimonji   Myo   Ho

Funagata   Hidari Daimonji   Toriigata
Funagata   Hidari Daimonji   Toriigata

Gozan no Okuribi

●Gozan no Okuribi  Five Giant Bonfires on the Five Mountains Surrounding Kyoto  
(Higashiyama Nyoigatake, lit at 8 PM)
Viewing spot: The banks of the Kamo River (Marutamachi - Misonobashi Bridge)
"Myo - Ho"
(Matsugasaki Nishiyama - Higashiyama,
lit at 8:10 PM)
Viewing spot: "Myo" Kitayamadori Street (near Notre-Dame Woman's University)
"Ho" Banks of the Takano River (North of the Takanohashi Bridge)
(Nishigamo Funayama, lit at 8:15 PM)
Viewing spot: Kitayamadori Street (Northwest of the Kitayama Ohashi Bridge)
"Hidari Daimonji"
(Ookitayama, lit at 8:15 PM)
Viewing spot: Nishiojidori Street (Saiin - Kinkakuji Temple)
(Saga Toriimoto, Mandara Yama,
lit at 8:20 PM)
Viewing spot: Matsuobashi Bridge, Arashiyama, near the Hirosawa-no-Ike Pond
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