Art, Culture, Festivals, Japan, Outdoors, Photography, travel

Tama Genryu matsuri (Headstream Festival) Kosuge, Yamanashi

Drums being played in front of a fire with a flame taller than 5 meters next to the river, prayers for clean water and fire. A ritual I thought I could only see in movies is the highlight of the Genryu festival.

This is a daylong festival loaded with many events and performances. This area is known for its fish and wasabi which is sold at the event by many food stalls during the performances. However, the highlight of the day starts around 6:00 pm with a taiko performance (Japanese drums) as they start lighting the torches. After a few words, they proceed to burn 3 big piles of straw while the drums continue to play. The ritual ends with a display of fireworks.

Although it was a difficult transportation, I rate this as one of my top favorite fire festivals in Japan. Surprisingly not very well known by many tourist, I was literally the only foreigner in the crowd. The following are just a few pictures I took during this trip.

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festival, Fire, Japan, Photography, travel

Tejikara Fire Festival

The Tejikara fire festival is one of those hidden gems not many people know about. It falls somewhere between eccentric and awesome festival. It makes it even more special that it is celebrated just a few weeks after the Sakura festivals near Kyoto and Nagoya, making April one of my favorite months to visit Japan.
This is a celebration with 300 years of history, where groups of people carry small shrines around and dance under a cascade of sparkles of fire and firecrackers and make noise hammering big bells. Most of the participants are naked from the waist up while dancing under the fire. It is believe that this practice will grant the participants with good health.

This year (2015), during the introduction, they made a mistake and some of the sparkles of fire made it all the way to the regular public, and I was lucky (or unlucky) to be one of the few people who reached the sparkles of fire, and trust me … those things burn … I’m not sure how these people can handle so many sparkles of fire for so long.

When and where?

  • Second Saturday of April, 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM approximately
  • Tejikarao Shrine (Kuranomae, Gifu city)
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festival, Fire, Japan, travel

Hifuri shinji: Fire ritual

DSC_3896It is an ancient japanese believe that when Kunitatsuno (one of the 12 gods of agriculture) got married, spring was borne, bringing the beautiful Sakura (Cherry blossoms trees) and a good harvest through the season. Every year at the Aso shrine, locals conmemorate this wedding and pray for a good harvest with a unique display of fire.

This is part of the fire festival in Mount Aso in Kyushu during the month of March and celebrated just right outside of the Ichinomiya Aso Shrine.

The celebration starts with an area with food stalls where you can find horse meat traditional from Kumamoto, later on, around 5:00 pm the wedding ceremony starts with a display of Taiko (Traditional Japanese drums). It is a little after dusk when the bride arrives and the worshipers will set bales of straw on fire and swing around in circles to welcome the bride. After the ceremony is performed (a few minutes later) regular people from the crowd are encouraged to join the celebration and grab their own bale of straw to set on fire and swing as well.

Details of the festival: http://discoverjapan.info/Details/HifurishinjiFireritual

Pictures and text : Enrique Moreno

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