Oct 22

Fire-festival held on 22 October each year famous for its procession of men bearing huge flaming torches, some of which weigh up to 80kg, and groups of children carrying small pine torches through the village of Kurama. The Kurama Fire Festival (鞍馬の火祭) is a re-enactment of a ceremony held in 940 following an earthquake that struck Kyoto to move Yuki Shrine to Kurama in order to protect the then-capital from any further disasters.

Although the festival begins in the day, it is the events after sunset for which visitors come. Small bonfires on a stands called kagaribi (篝火) are lit at 6pm in front of the town’s traditional buildings, following which the pine torches are set alight and the procession begins with cries of “saireiya, sairyo” to wish all a good festival. This fire-wielding parade moves towards Kurama Temple around 8pm before two mikoshi (portable shrines) are carried down from Yuki Shrine and paraded through the town.

Due to the number of visitors, there is a set course along which everyone must keep moving during the festival. Those thinking of making the journey are advised to arrive early (approximately 10,000 visitors come for the festival each year). Equally, make sure you give yourself enough time to get back to Kyoto, as the ceremony ends past midnight and there is a rush for the last train.

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