Daimonji Festival is one of the major events during summer in Nara.
A huge bonfire in the shape of a Chinese character ‘DAI’ (meaning large) is lit on the slope of Mt. Takamado as the highlight of the festival, honoring the souls of people deceased at war and disasters.
The character symbolizes the universe and the bonfire is intended to destroy the seventy-five evil passion and earthly desires lurking in the human mind.
It is also known to be one of the biggest ‘Dai’ amongst other Daimonji festivals in Japan.
Parade and Memorial Service
Leading up to 60th anniversary, there will be a parade at 3:30 p.m. from JR Nara Station to Sarusawa Pond through Sanjo street, before the annual memorial service and bonfire.
At.6:50 p.m., a religious service begins at Tobihino, the inner-most part of Nara Park, officiated by Kasuga Taisha Shrine and many monks from approximately 30 temples located around Nara prefecture.
In the light of a bonfire, the names of 29,243 war deceased are read aloud and the bereaved families of the war deceased as well as visitors offer incense for the peaceful repose of the souls.
Concert at JR Nara Station: 3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Parade through Sanjo Street to Sarusawa Pond: 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Memorial Service at Tobihino: from 6:50 p.m.
Bonfire Light Up: from 8:00 p.m.
History of Nara Daimonji Festival
The 15th of August, in the middle of the Bon Festival (a Buddhist festival for the souls of people’s ancestors) is the day that World War Ⅱ has come to an end.
Mr.Chuzaburou Kagita, former Mayor of Nara City, and other concerned citizens took the initiative for proposing to people that a memorial service should be held on this day for the war deceased in the World WarⅠand Ⅱ, Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).
Thanks to the earnest wishes and great efforts of the promoters, the ‘Daimonji Okuribi’ (Bonfire to send off the souls of our ancestors who come to our homes to see how their descendants are doing) was inaugurated on the 15th of August, 1960.
Since then, the ceremony and the festival have been carried out every year without exception.
Mt. Takamado was chosen as the site of the bonfire for the reason that it has long been respected by people as a holy mountain. An Imperial Villa even constructed there in the 8th century for Emperor Shomu, who was an earnest Buddhist and the founder of the Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple in Nara.
The mountain is also considered as the seat of deities situated just behind Gokoku Jinja, the shrine for the war deceased.
You can donate and support the operation and continuity of Nara Daimonji Festival at memorial service in Tobihino. There are several ways to support the festival:
【‘Dai’ Hand Fan】
Support the festival and receive a ‘Dai’ Hand Fan! This year, the fan without ads has a picture of artwork by award-winning Japanese painter, Koji Kinutani.
– Fan with ads: 500 yen each
– Fan without ads (with a picture by Koji Kinutani): 1,000 yen each
【Where】Festival tent at Tobihino
【When】4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Join the memorial service and watch Daimonji lit on Mt. Takamado from supporter seats.
– A seat + a fan with ads: 700 per person
– A seat + a fan without ads: 1,200 per person
【Where】Festival tents at Tobihino and Kasuga Sando
【When】5:00 p.m. – 6:45 p.m.