Kurama no Hi Matsuri｜鞍馬の火祭り
The Kurama Fire Festival is one of the most famous fire-based festivals in Kyoto and is also considered one of its most eccentric. It is based on the journey of the god Yuki Daimyōjin to Yuki Shrine on the slopes of Mount Kurama in 940 after a series of disasters in the capital, and the main draw of the festival is the procession of local men bearing huge flaming torches through the village of Kurama.
When the sun sets, watch fires are lit in front of homes and torches are readied, with the large taimatsu weighing up to 80 kg carried by adult men! The torch bearers gather at the steps leading up to the Sanmon Gate, and when the festival reaches its peak more than a hundred are assembled. Once the sacred rope is cut, select men make their way up the mountain to bring down two portable shrines, which are then paraded around the village with the bearers showing their strength along the way.
The local men wear traditional garb that includes warrior’s sandals, a loincloth, a skirt made of braided rope, an armguard with colorful patterned fabric, and a padded cloth slung over one shoulder to lay the torch on.
Lasting until midnight in the still warm October weather, the Kurama Fire Festival is a remnant of a different time, and it’s easy to lose yourself in the fervor of the night.
Things to See/Do