KYOTO, Japan (CNN) -- Huge bonfires have lit up the night sky of the ancient capital of Kyoto in an annual Buddhist festival.
One fire lit on a mountainside on Thursday evening was in the shape of the Chinese character "Dai", meaning large.
This was followed by the lighting of several other bonfires. One was in the shape of a boat, another, a shrine gate.
Spectators packed rooftops in central Kyoto to witness the annual event that signifies the end of the Japanese O-Bon festival of the dead.
The fire festival is said to date back more than 300 years. The flames are lit to send off the spirits of ancestors, which are believed to return home during the mid-summer Bon period.
A woman in her 60s said she prayed for the soul of her deceased husband and wished for her family to stay healthy.