Last night, Teddy and I dressed up in our yukata, and went off to meet with my previous students and coworkers for dinner and to watch Gozan Okuribi. Gozan Okuribi, which means “the five mountain send-off fires” is also known as “Daimonji” – after one of the kanji that is used in the fires. Daimonji takes place on August 16th, and marks the end of O-bon. O-bon is a time when people believe the spirits of the dead return to the earth, so many people go back to their hometowns at this time and care for their family graves. These send-off fires are supposed to guide the spirits back to the afterlife.
There are 5 send-off fires lit in order from east to west – dai (kanji for “Large”), myou-hou (“wonderous dharma”), fune-gata (shape of a boat), hidari-dai (the kanji for large on the left), and torii-gata (the shape of a shrine gate). The first fire is lit at 8 pm, and the last is lit at 8:20 pm. From our perspective, we could see all of the fires except for torii-gata.
We began our evening at Koyaji, an izakaya (Japanese bar) right by my old school from my JET days.
I enjoy going out to eat with others, because then I can share with you the foods that I don’t eat!
The food on the right is okonomiyaki, a meat and vegetable pancake with fish flakes, mayonnaise and brown sauce on top. The other food is karaage, fried chicken.
We got a fried tofu salad.
We also got a cheese omelet, and mochi filled with fried nori and covered in cheese.
The two men in the back are my former coworkers. The girls are from the homeroom class I visited each morning. They graduated in 2008!!
Me and Teddy at the izakaya.
Some type of meat and potato croquette.
Another group photo!
A variety of fried, skewered foods.
This is “Dai”, the first fire.
Me and Teddy in front of “Dai”.
This is “Myou-Hou”.
A close-up of “Myou”…
…and one of “Hou”.
It was so hazy that “Fune-gata” looked like it was floating in the sky. Here is it in the process of being lit.
Fune-gata burning brightly.
All of us in front of “Myou-Hou”.
Well, that is all for Daimonji!