5 huge symbols, 4 kanji characters and a simple boat shape are set ablaze on the hills surrounding Kyoto and can be seen from key places in the city. The practice originated from lighting fires at the end of Obon (Festival of Souls) to guide one's ancestral spirits who have come down to earth back homeward to heaven.
Other Events in August
August 7 - 10
Taking place over 3 days, Gojo dori east of Kamogawa comes alive in the sweltering heat with craftsman selling Kiyomizu-yaki pottery and ceramics at slightly discounted prices. Stalls line either side of the street from midday to evening, and more often than not one is able to talk directly with the maker of the wares you see.
August 22 - 23
The Jizo-Bon festival is unique to Kyoto and takes place the weekend following the Obon holidays. These are similar to neighborhood block parties that serve as a kind of children's festival to pray for the health of children. Spread out over two days, temporary altars are set up, and the neighborhood is decorated with paper lanterns, food stalls, and children partake in games, light fireworks and eat sweets while adults commune for drink and conversation.
August 5 - 10th
These memorial services held during Obon for the spirits of the departed. By the flickering lights of thousands of lanterns or candles, people ask their ancestors for guidance. Manto ceremonies can be seen at many major temples throughout Kyoto, and each temple displays their many lanterns in various ways.