January 7th (Saturday) Daizenji Tamataregu Shrine’s “Oniyo” (Fire Festival)
Daizenji Tamataregu Shrine’s “Oniyo” is a festival with tradition of more than 1,600 years and it is also one of Japan’s Three Major Fire Festivals! Its purpose is to banish evil spirits from the town and grant luck, fertility and prosperity.
Shinto Priests purify the town with fire from torches, bonfires and fireworks to drive away evil demons (oni) and ensure good luck and prosperity to the residents. In a tradition that dates back 1900 years, the six neighborhoods surrounding the shrine construct huge torches and parade them between the holy waters of the Arai river and the shrine in order to chase the devil from the town.
Late in the afternoon a group of 20 young men carrying torches and lanterns congregate outside the shrine. They are dressed in traditional white loincloths and headbands and are naked from the waist up. With the priest, they form a procession to the Arai River. They initiate the ceremony by cleansing themselves and carrying holy water back to the shrine in large wooden casks.
At 9:00 PM all the lights of the shrine are extinguished and a bell begins to chime. All the men assemble en mass. Large groups carry the six giant bamboo torches. Each one is wrapped in 365 lengths of rope (one for each day of the year), weighs up to 1200 kilograms (2600 lbs.) and measures about 13 meters long (40 ft.) and a meter wide. The men support them with dozens of hand-held bamboo props.
The torches reach the other side of the temple, and one by one, men climb on top of them, getting as close to the fire as they dare – paying their respect to the flame, proving their bravery.
|January 7th 13：00～23：00|
|〒830-0073 Daizenji Tamataregu Shrine, 1463-1 Miyamoto, Daizenji-machi, Kurume-shi, Fukuoka|
|By car・・・・About 57 minutes from Hakata via Kyushu Expressway
By train・・・From Hakata Station to Kurume Station in 36min
By Bus・・・From Kurume Station to Tamataregu in 17min
※All information are from December 26th 2016