Nozawa Fire Festival

Nozawa Fire Festival

A magnificent fire festival for protection against bad luck and prayers for children and a good marriage

The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is a grand event that takes place every winter on January 15th in the Hokuriku Shinetsu region of japan. This festival is dedicated to Dosojin, a deity believed to protect against bad luck and bring blessings for children and a good marriage. It is a widely celebrated festival that attracts locals and tourists alike.

The festival holds great significance for the men of the village, especially those aged 25 and 42, as these are considered unlucky years in Japanese astrology. The men play a crucial role in the festival, as they carry torches that light up the night and engage in a fierce battle to protect a temporary shrine called a shaden.

The festival begins with the construction of a makeshift shrine at Dosojinba, a square located a short walk from the Oyu public bathhouse on the main street. Around a hundred villagers come together to build the shrine, which serves as the focal point of the festival. The 42-year-olds sit atop the shrine, singing prayers to the Dosojin, while the 25-year-olds stand at the bottom, holding ropes attached to the shrine.

As the festival kicks off, the participants chant, “Bring on the fire! Bring on the fire!” in anticipation of the fiery battle that is about to unfold. Columns of villagers carrying bundled reed torches charge towards the shrine, attempting to set it ablaze. The men holding the ropes have the arduous task of protecting the shrine from the onslaught of fire.

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The battle between the villagers and the shrine defenders is intense, with sparks and flames illuminating the night sky. The atmosphere is electrifying as the villagers fiercely attack the shrine, while the defenders do their best to ward off the flames. The battle continues until the shrine building is eventually set alight, marking the end of the festival.

The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is not only a spectacle of fire and excitement but also a celebration of life and blessings. It is believed that participating in the festival brings good luck and ensures the well-being of the family’s first child. The festival also serves as an occasion to pray for a bountiful harvest and good health for the entire community.

One of the highlights of the festival is the traditional food that is prepared and shared among the participants. Grilled dough pockets with savory fillings, known as oyaki, are a popular treat during the festival. These delicious snacks are enjoyed by both locals and visitors, adding to the festive atmosphere.

To attend the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, there are several transportation options available. The Nagano Snow Shuttle offers a direct connection between Tokyo’s airports, Shinjuku Station, and Nozawa. This convenient service takes approximately six hours and is a popular choice for travelers. Alternatively, one can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Iiyama, followed by the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus, which takes around 25 minutes.

The festival attracts a large number of visitors from all over Japan and beyond. Many tourists choose to stay in the charming village of Nozawa Onsen, which offers a range of accommodation options, including traditional Japanese ryokans and modern hotels. The village is known for its hot springs, making it an ideal destination for relaxation and rejuvenation.

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In addition to the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, the village of Nozawa Onsen has much to offer visitors. The area is renowned for its ski resorts, which attract winter sports enthusiasts from around the world. The stunning natural beauty of the surrounding mountains provides the perfect backdrop for skiing and snowboarding.

Exploring the village itself is a delightful experience, with its traditional architecture, narrow streets, and charming shops. The Oyu public bathhouse, located near the festival site, is a must-visit for those seeking relaxation and a taste of Japanese bathing culture. The natural hot spring waters of Nozawa Onsen are believed to have healing properties, making it a popular destination for wellness tourism.

Nozawa Onsen is also known for its delicious cuisine, with a variety of local dishes to indulge in. From fresh seafood to hearty mountain vegetables, there is something to satisfy every palate. The village is dotted with cozy restaurants and izakayas, where visitors can sample traditional Japanese dishes and savor the flavors of the region.

The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is a cultural event that showcases the rich traditions and beliefs of the Japanese people. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of the community and the importance they place on protecting their loved ones and praying for a prosperous future. The festival is a unique blend of ancient rituals and modern celebrations, creating an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

As the flames of the torches illuminate the night sky, the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival captures the imagination and leaves a lasting impression. It is a symbol of hope, renewal, and the power of community. Whether you are seeking to witness a spectacular display of fire or immerse yourself in Japanese culture, this festival is not to be missed.

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Address And Maps Location:

Toyosato, Nozawaonsen-mura, Shimotakai-gun, Nagano-ken


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