Tonight is the annual trek up to the top of Mount Atago.
And it is magic.
Every year on July 31, thousands of hikers climb Mount Atago in the middle of the night.
At 924 meters, Atago-san is the highest mountain in the city.
The festival that takes place that night is known as "Sennichi Tsuyasai," which roughly translates as one thousand days all night festival.
The purpose of the festival is to pray to the gods on the mountain for a thousand days of flame (for cooking, heating, life) and, on the contrary, a thousand days of fire prevention.
The hike is about 4 kilometers from top to bottom.
What makes this event special is that most of the climbers do so after dark. The city strings up lights from the bottom of the mountain, in Kiyotaki, all the way to the very top at Atago Shrine.
As hikers ascend the mountain, they call out "O kudariyasu" (on your way down) to those descending. In reply, they say "O noboriyasu" (on your way up).
At the very top are many lanterns (see bottom left).
Once at the top, pilgrims buy good luck charms to ward off fire and bad luck.
The hike starts in Kiyotaki, a rural village not too far from Arashiyama.
What to Bring
Light clothes, plus something heavier for when you get to the top (the temperature can be quite chilly)
A change of clothes
Small towel for sweat
Bit of cash just in case
Sneakers or light hiking boots
Bus to Kiyotaki
From JR Kyoto Station: Bus stop No. C6 Bus No. 72
From Hankyu Arashiyama station: Bus No. 62 or 72
From Keihan Sanjo station: Bus stop No. 14 Bus No. 62