5. Kurama Fire Festival (Kurama no Hi Matsuri)
Another fall celebration, Kurama no Hi Matsuri is one of Kyoto’s most popular fire festivals and arguably Kyoto’s most theatrical parade. The festival is a reenactment of the relocation of the Yuki-jinja Shrine from Kyoto to Kurama.
The festival begins at dusk, in the woods of Kurama villages, as hundreds of villagers, dressed in traditional clothes made of braided rope, carry burning torches to the shrine. The event was originally meant to welcome the shrine’s spirits, or kami, to the village.
A right of passage for young people, children lead the procession (carrying small torches), followed by teens, and then adults. Men carry portable shrines called mikoshi as well as the largest, most impressive torches, which can weigh 80 kilograms (over 175 pounds). All the torches are brought to the shrine where they are combined to create a massive bonfire that lasts until midnight.
Kyoto is a go-to city for popular, must-see Japanese matsuri. Kyoto's festivals celebrate history and tradition with spirited parades, intricate costumes, and other visual spectacles. What Japanese festival do you want to see most?