Fire Festivals (hi matsuri)


Fire festivals, fire ceremonies (hi matsuri 火祭り)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: various, see below
***** Category: Observance


Fire festivals and rituals are quite popular in Japan.
Feuerfeste, himatsuri

Fire Festivals, hi no saiten 火の祭典
People carry torches at night.

Fire Rituals, goma 護摩, goma ku 護摩供
Mostly of the Shingon Sect, where talismans are consecrated and old talismans burned in a sacred fire inside a hall or a large sacred bonfire outside. Sometimes at the end ascetics and laymen alike walk through the hot embers (hiwatari matsuri, see below).

Most temples dedicated to the deity Fudo Myo-O have a fire ritual on the 28 of each month, the memorial day of Fudo Myo-O 不動明王 and special first and last rituals of the year, on December (osame Fudo) and January (hatsu Fudo).

Some fire festivals are also famous as "naked festivals", hadaka matsuri, see LINK below.


... ... ... ... SPRING

. Aso Shrine Festivals 阿蘇神社
hiburi matsuri 火振り祭 (ひぶりまつり)
"fire-swinging festival"

Kihara Fudo Fire Walking Festival ... 木原不動尊 Kumamoto. Hiwatari matsuri.

Konoita Fudo Fire Walking Festival ... 高板山不動堂 Yashima, Shikoku. Hiwatari matsuri.

Otomatsuri (otoo matsuri 御灯祭, お燈まつり, 御燈祭) Torch Festival Kumano, Wakayama

.Saga no hashira taimatsu
嵯峨の柱炬 (さがのはしらたいまつ)
Saga torch ceremony
at Saga, Kyoto. March 15
..... Saga o-taimatsu 嵯峨御松明(さがおたいまつ)
..... hashira taimatsu 柱松明(はしらたいまつ)
..... o-taimatsu 御松明(おたいまつ)

. Hiwatari matsuri 高尾山の火渡り祭
fire-walking ritual at Mt. Takao
second sunday of March


... ... ... ... SUMMER

Hanabi Senkoo 花火線香 > Firework Display (hanabi, Japan)

. Nachi no himatsuri 那智の火祭り
Fire Festival at Nachi

oogi matsuri 扇祭(おうぎまつり) hand fan festival
At shrine Nachi Taisha. July 14.
one of the three largest fire festivals of Japan


... ... ... ... AUTUMN

Daimonji 大文字、大文字焼 Great Seeing-Off Fire in Kyoto
and other fire ceremonies during Bon Festival (o-bon) お盆

... ... ...

Kurama no hi matsuri 鞍馬の火祭 Kurama Fire Festival
くらまのひまつり. October 22
..... kanname sai 神嘗祭(かんなめさい)
..... kanjoo sai 神嘗祭(しんじょうさい)

It is said to reenact the scene of the enshrined deity greeted after traveling from the Imperial Palace to Kurama-no-Sato village, at the end of the Heian Period. On the evening of the 22nd watch fires are lit at the entrances to the local houses, and at 6:00 in the evening the town is lit up with torches carried by children.

Soon after that the local people, wearing straw warrior sandals, parade through the streets carrying a great torch and yelling along the way until they gather at the sacred precincts of the shrine. Two portable shrines amid the sparks from the torches present a grand sight. The return celebration is held on the 23rd.

© Copyright (C) Kyoto Prefecture

. WKD : Festivals at Kurama  

... ... ...

Yoshida Fire Festival (Yoshida himatsuri, Yoshida chinkasai) 吉田の火祭り
Fujiyoshida Town
Fuji Sengen Jinja no Himatsuri 富士浅間神社の火祭り


... ... ... ... WINTER

Bellows Festival (fuigo matsuri)

. shiwasu matsuri 師走祭り Shiwasu festival .
at Mikado Jinja 神門神社 in Miyazaki, Kyushu
Celebrating a deified Korean king and his sons.


... ... ... ... NEW YEAR

Many Fire rituals on January 1 are held for the people to take home some sacred embers or fire to light the own hearth fire for the first soup of the year.
Water for this soup is called
Wakamizu 若水 "young water" .

初護摩 Hatsu-goma, First Fire Ceremony in honor of Fudo Myo-O
..... Oyama Fudo, Fire Ceremony

Kaji hajime 鍛冶初, First use of the smithy
..... Hatsu kamado 初竃, first fire in the stove

... ... ...

Nyoodoosai 繞道祭 にょうどうさい Nyoodoo Festival
gojinka matsuri 御神火まつり(ごじんかまつり)
At the great shrine in Miwa in Nara prefecture. 大神神社(桜井市三輪)
At night on January 1.
People try to catch some embers or light ropes and take the fire home to light the own hearth fire for the first soup of the year.

© Nyodosai. More photos are here !

Look at all the Festivals of Omiwa Shrine


Okera mairi 白朮詣 Okera Festival at Yasaka Shrine, Kyoto


Oniyo Fire Festival 鬼夜(おによ)"Demon's Night"
Daizenji Town, Kurume, Fukuoka
January 7.
Big pine torches are carried around (taimatsu mawashi). This festival goes back more than 1600 years. In 368 A.D. a local low-ranking officer took revenge on a nobleman, who was very cruel, and killed him with a large torch. Nowadays, this festival is intended to cleanse the shrine compound of evil spirits. People pray for the wellbeing in the coming year.
Since 1955 it is an important cultural property.
Tarutama Shrine, 玉垂宮 久留米大善寺

PHOTO © The Nishinippon Shimbun.


Sagichoo Festival 左義長
Fire Rituals and Coming of Age Ceremonies

. Sagichoo Matsuri 左義長まつり Sagicho Festival.
at Omi Hachiman 近江八幡
Omi Hachiman no Hi matsuri (Omihachiman Shrine fire festival)


Toba himatsuri 鳥羽火祭 (とばひまつり) Toba Fire Festival

On the second sunday of February
at the shrine Toba Shinmeisha 鳥羽神明社 in Aichi

After all men are purified in the cold water of the sea, to men who are in their un-auspicious year (yakudoshi 厄年) have to jump over large pine torches and then they fight over 12 ropes.
The result is like an oracle for the weather and a good harvest of the coming year.
Mikawa-Toba Fire Festival

The fire festival of Toba-Shinmeisha
(Himatsuri, registered as the National Intangible Folk Cultural Property)
Toba-no-himatsuri, the fire festival of Toba, dates back to more than 1200 years ago, taking place on the second Sunday of February every year. It is a festival of divination that forecasts the harvest of the coming year, by dividing the local area into the east team and the west team: “Fukuji” and “Kanji”.
They finish the ritual purification “Misogi” in the afternoon.

At about 8pm, men in their strange costumes made from old festival banners jump into two great bonfires called “Suzumi”, in order to look for the “Shingi”, the holy tree, as well as the 12 ropes signifying the months of the year. The men are often referred to as ‘Neko’, i.e. cats.
The sight of men passionately fighting against the flames is simply breath taking. According to legend, the chopsticks made from the embers prevent bad teeth, and the same embers used for sericulture secures good silk.
source : www.city.nishio.aichi.jp

- Reference : Videos of the Festival


The following are not listed in the saijiki:

Taimatsu Torches Festival in Sukagawa city, Fukushima
November 12, 2011

It's one of the three largest fire festivals in Japan. Sukagawa Taimatsu Akashi, or torches fire festival, took place on November 12th at Gorosan of Sukagawa-city in Fukushima prefecture attracting many spectators.
This time round, the organizing committee of the festival refrained from using the local pine trees due to suspected radiation from the nuclear plant's accident. Yet, many volunteers from all over Japan sent their branches of pine trees, thus made it possible to stage the fire event.
The Taimatsu Akashi, or pine tree torches fire, was lighted off from the top of the twenty large torches, some 10 meters high and three tons each.
The Taimatsu Akashi festival originated in 1589 to pay respects to the late lord of Sukagawa who was overthrown by Date Masamune. In order to ward off their would-be attackers, residents constructed a number of giant torches and set them alight on top of a hill.
The festival includes a parade, during which the 10m long torches are carried throught the streets of the town, before finally being erected on top of Midorigaoka park and then set alight. Torches are constructed or sponsored by local schools and businesses, whose students or employees later carry them in the parade.
source : www.allvoices.com

Even after the big earthquake
松明あかし 須賀川

source : city.sukagawa.fukushima.jp

. Fukushima Folk Art - 福島県 .

Worldwide use

last Tuesday of January
Up-Helly-Aa Lerwick, Shetland Islands.
Norse ancestors welcomed the return of the sun god with Yule,
a 24-day period of feasting, storytilling, and bonfires. The last night
of the festival was caalled up-Helly-Aa or End of the Holy Days.モ
model Viking boat is carried in night procession and burned with torches.

Jan 27
Birthday of Zoroaster, 6th cent. BC Persian fire-prophet

Jan 31
Celtic - Traditional Eve of Imbolc (Brigid's Day)
..... Brigid's Day (Ireland) St. Brigid

Fire Festivals and Ceremonies of the World

Things found on the way


火祭や炎切り取るカメラの目 (カメラアイ)
himatsuri ya hono kiritoru kamera ai

fire festival -
the camera cuts through
the flames

野田ゆたか Noda Yutaka, Kurama Fire Festival


Related words

***** Hadaka Matsuri, Naked Festivals

***** . Kebesu festival (kebesu sai ケベス祭)

***** . Ota Fire Festival 太田の火まつり  
Daisen town, Akita



Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Ehime
南宇和郡 Minami-Uwa district 愛南町 Ainan town

Before drawing wakamizu 若水 the first water of the year, people light the water surface with taimatsu 松明 a torch.
In former times they could see Fuku no Kami in the water.
(50 legends to collect)

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from Fukushima 福島県 いわき市 Iwaki city

hi matsuri 火祭り fire festival
During the O-Bon festival for the ancestors, according to the lunar calendar from day 13 to day 17 of the 7th month, there was a large fire festival.
Large torches were made from wheat straw. The children put fire to the torches and carried them up to 横手山 Mount Yokoteyama. From there they threw tham into the valley. But there was never a large fire in the mountain forest.
In a village were they stopped this custom, they had fires and often a diarrea epidemy. So they continued the fire festival the next year again.
geri 下痢と伝説 Legends about dysentery, diarrhea - Durchfall

Gabi Greve said...

taimatsu 松明と伝説 Legends about torches
and hi matsuri 火祭り fire festivals