A Traditional Fire Ritual at New Year’s
The Okera Mairi festival in Kyoto is a traditional fire ritual that takes place at Yasaka-jinja Shrine. This late-night festival is held on New Year’s Eve and continues into New Year’s Day. Devotees from all over descend upon the shrine to participate in this auspicious event.
The Fires and Fortune
The highlight of the Okera Mairi festival is the lighting of the fires. These fires are created using medicinal herbs and are believed to cleanse away the negative energies of the previous year. It is said that by participating in this ritual, one can bring in new good fortune for the upcoming year.
The flames are lit at the end of a bamboo rope, and in order to keep the fire alight, it must be swung around continuously. This sight of the burning ropes in the darkness is truly mesmerizing and marks the beginning of a new year.
Taking Home the Embers
One of the unique aspects of the Okera Mairi festival is the opportunity to take home some of the embers from the fires. Many visitors choose to do this as a way to bring the blessings and good fortune of the festival into their own homes.
Some people use the embers to make zoni soup, a traditional Japanese New Year’s dish. The embers are added to the soup to infuse it with the positive energy of the festival. Others choose to light a candle using the embers as a symbol of good fortune and protection.
Watching Others Keep the Fire Alight
Another interesting aspect of the Okera Mairi festival is watching other visitors attempt to keep the fire alight during their journey home. It is believed that if the fire goes out before reaching home, it is a sign of bad luck for the coming year. Therefore, participants must do their best to protect the flames and ensure they stay lit until they reach their destination.
How to Get There
To attend the Okera Mairi festival, there are several transportation options available. Visitors can choose to take a bus, use the underground subway system, hail a taxi, or even walk to Yasaka-jinja Shrine. The shrine is easily accessible by public transportation, making it convenient for festival-goers.
However, it is important to note that since the festival takes place from late on New Year’s Eve to New Year’s Day, public transportation may not be available for the duration. It is advisable to plan your journey accordingly and make alternative arrangements if needed.
Location and Access
Yasaka-jinja Shrine is located in Kyoto and is a popular tourist attraction throughout the year. The shrine’s address is 625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu. It is situated in the Higashiyama district, known for its historic temples and traditional atmosphere.
To access the shrine, visitors can follow the directions provided on the official website or use a navigation app for guidance. The shrine is well-known and can be easily found by locals and tourists alike.
It is important to note that the information provided in this article may be subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is advisable to check the latest updates and guidelines from local authorities and the shrine itself before planning your visit.
In conclusion, the Okera Mairi festival in Kyoto is a unique and traditional fire ritual that takes place at Yasaka-jinja Shrine. By participating in this festival, attendees can cleanse away the negative energies of the previous year and bring in new good fortune for the upcoming year. The opportunity to take home some of the embers and witness others keeping the fire alight adds to the charm of this auspicious event. Visitors can easily access the shrine using various transportation options, but it is important to consider the availability of public transportation during the festival period. It is advisable to stay informed about any COVID-19-related guidelines and restrictions before planning your visit.
Address And Maps Location:
625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu