The evening sky is ablaze with the flames of huge watch fires and 250 pine torches in this intimate fire festival held in the mountains surrounding Kyoto

The Kurama Fire Festival is held every year from the morning of every October 22 to late at night the following day. The festival reenacts the scene of welcoming a deity to Yuki-jinja Shrine, a rustic, moss-covered shrine nestled in the hills of Kurama in northern Kyoto.

At 6pm on the day of the festival, multiple 3-metre tall watchfires (kagaribi) dotted throughout the village and in front of the houses are ignited simultaneously to start the festival.

More than 250 festival participants bearing various sizes of “taimatsu” (pine torches) begin parading all night long, announcing the arrival of the festival  in loud voices. Children carrying small pine torches are followed by grown-ups bearing huge pine torches which can weigh more than 80 kg each. The combination of heat from the watchfires and the handheld pine torches combine, seemingly enveloping the place with heated air.

At 8pm, people gather at the gateway of Kurama-dera Temple and walk down the hill to pay a visit of worship to Yuki-jinja Shrine. Later, two “mikoshi” (portable shrines) carried by young men wearing loincloths are paraded through the town streets, bringing the festival to its climax. Each year, the festival ends a little after midnight.

Kurama is located in scenic area blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, so it makes an ideal place for viewing all year round, but especially during the cherry blossom season in early April and the autumn foliage season in early November (exact dates vary from year to year).

Watch a video of the festival here:


October 22nd-23rd

Dates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.



Kurama, Kyoto