Festivals & Events
The Kurama Fire Festival in the mountainous village of Kurama honors Yuki Shrine and its spriits, and lights up the night from mid- to late October. Considered one of Kyoto’s three greatest festivals, it features a parade with hundreds of people bearing flaming torches, creating a truly majestic sight.
The event venue can be easily accessed by train from Kyoto Station in around an hour.
Take the Keihan Line from Kyoto Station to Demachiyanagi Station. Transfer to the Eizan Dentetsu Line and get off at Kurama Station. The festival is held on the streets of the village just outside the station.
Yuki Shrine was moved to Kurama during a time of war in the early Heian period (794-1185). The parade is a reenactment of the ceremony that the local villagers held to welcome the kami spirits of the shrine to the village.
Easily Kyoto’s most theatrical parade, this festival is both dynamic and hot. The procession begins at dusk, when small bonfires are lit in front of each house. Many homes display their family heirlooms in their windows such as samurai armor.
The parade is also considered a rite of passage for youth. Originally an event just for boys, girls now participate as well due to the shrinking population of the village. Children are first in the procession, holding small torches, followed by teenagers. The men of the village are the focus of the parade, carrying huge torches weighing as much as 80 kilograms.
All involved wear traditional costumes, which are minimal in nature, especially considering the weather and the circumstances: sandals, loincloths, braided rope skirts tied around the waist, and a padded cloth over one shoulder to cushion the torch.
A small number of village men carry mikoshi portable shrines up the road to the shrine. This is a show of great strength, as the mikoshi are incredibly heavy.
The parade ends at Yuki Shrine, where the torches are piled on top of each other to create an enormous bonfire. The festivities start at sunset and last until midnight.