Kyoto’s summer tradition, Okuribi bonfire, was held on August 16th. As I mentioned in
Kyoto’s Summer Tradition – Okuribi Bonfire, this event’s origin is uncertain. Nowadays, people see this event as the end of Obon, the period when ancestors come back to this world to stay until August 16th. Okuribi is a religious bonfire to send the spirits back to another world, not a festival.
Since I live in the north part of Kyoto city, I was able to see two different bonfires this year; 妙 (Myo) and 法 (Ho). Both are related to Buddhism’s concept. As you can see, 妙 (Myo) is slightly brighter because I could get closer to the mountain where this bonfire was lit.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the point where I could see 法 (Ho), the bonfire were starting to dwindle. They usually extinguish it after 30 minutes.
If you want to see all of them, going to the highest buildings in Kyoto sounds like the best plan. Kyoto Tower, the Kyoto Station and Hotel Okura Kyoto are the most promising destinations. But everyone tends to think the same thing. So you need to make a reservation beforehand (you need to pay for Kyoto Tower and Hotel Okura). If you can’t make a reservation, then you’d better stick just one bonfire. I did it this year and it was very good. Planning ahead is the key. The map below might be helpful.
You can find much more useful and complete information in my Kyoto Guidebook which is now available on Amazon sites. Click here to buy the Kyoto Guidebook (ebook) on Amazon.com (You can find the Kyoto Guidebook on your local Amazon site).