[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Oto Fire Festival Blazes on At Wakayama Prefecture

(Click here to read the original article in Japanese.)

 

 

It turns out that wishing for the cold to subside and a fruitful spring to unfold is a more common sentiment than one might think. At Kamikura Shrine in Shingu city, Wakayama Prefecture, this idea is taken to a whole new fiery level.

 

Every year on February 6, the Oto Festival takes place to wish for a good harvest and good health. Simply speaking, it’s one of the most lively and famous fire festivals in Japan.

 

Men all ages – dressed in white with a thick rope tied around their waist – congregate at the shrine carrying a wooden torch.

 

As the excitement rises, the torches are lit on fire. At 8 P.M. the scene that unfolds is of roughly 2000 brightly lit torches carried by men racing down the 500 steps leading to Kamikura Shrine, making for a blur of warm yellow light illuminating all the surroundings.

 

Because of the powerful imagery of the fire moving down the steep hill, a traditional folk song describes the scene as a flaming waterfall cascading  from the mountain in the shape a winding fiery dragon.

 

This awe-inspiring celebration has a 1400 history and is recognized as Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

 

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(Click here to read the related article in Japanese)

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