Middle of August in Japan is a time of Obon—a Buddhist holiday for the departed.
It is believed that souls come to their hometowns during this time. Also living people come back to meet with their ancestors, welcome them, and wish farewell with lighting okuribi—”farewell bonfires.”
In Nara—the cradle of Japanese Buddhism—numerous ceremonies take place. The whole city center is lit with thousands of lanterns, and the main activities include opening of the Great Buddha Hall, lighting all the candles in Kasuga Taisha and setting fire to a sign in the shape of character 大 (“great”) which arms are 150 meters long.