A river of fire blazes in the cold night during this spectacular festival at a World Heritage Site
The Oto Matsuri is an ancient festival that has been celebrated for 1,400 years. It takes place at the Kamikura Shrine, a spiritual sanctuary that is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The festival is held in February and is known for its breathtaking display of a river of fire.
The festival begins with a procession of roughly 2,000 men dressed in white robes. They carry flaming torches that are lit from a sacred fire. These torches are then used to ignite the steep stone staircase that leads up to the Kamikura Shrine. As the men race down the 538 steps, the staircase is transformed into a cascading river of fire.
The sight is truly awe-inspiring. The flames dance and flicker in the cold night, casting an ethereal glow on the surroundings. The sound of the crackling fire and the chanting of the men create a mesmerizing atmosphere. It feels as if you have been transported to another world, where ancient traditions come to life.
The festival is not just a visual spectacle, but also a deeply symbolic event. The Oto Matsuri is a purification ritual that is performed to pray for a good harvest. It is believed that the flames cleanse and purify the area, ensuring a bountiful crop in the coming year. The festival is also a way to honor the gods and seek their blessings.
The tradition of the Oto Matsuri has remained largely unchanged over the centuries. One of the rules of the festival is that women are not allowed to enter the mountain on the day of the event. This rule is believed to have been established to maintain the purity of the ritual. Only men are allowed to participate and carry the torches down the staircase.
The festival is deeply rooted in the local culture and has become an important part of the community’s identity. It brings people together and fosters a sense of unity and pride. The Oto Matsuri is not just a celebration, but also a way to preserve and pass on the traditions and heritage of the region.
To witness the Oto Matsuri is to experience a piece of history. It is a chance to see ancient rituals and traditions come to life in a modern world. The festival is a testament to the enduring power of culture and the importance of preserving our heritage.
How to Get There
The Kamikura Shrine is easily accessible by train. From JR Shingu Station, it is just a short walk to the shrine. The area around the shrine is also worth exploring, with its beautiful natural scenery and historical sites.
For those who are interested in attending the Oto Matsuri, it is important to plan ahead. The festival takes place in February, so be sure to check the exact dates and make any necessary arrangements for accommodation and transportation.
While in Shingu, there are also other attractions worth visiting. One of them is the Shichiri Mihama Beach, known for its stunning coastline and picturesque views. Another highlight is the Kumano Fireworks Festival, which takes place in the summer and features a dazzling display of fireworks.
In conclusion, the Oto Matsuri is a truly remarkable festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage of japan. The sight of a river of fire blazing in the cold night is a sight to behold. It is a testament to the enduring power of tradition and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage. If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend witnessing this spectacular event at the Kamikura Shrine. It is an experience that you will never forget.
Address And Maps Location:
1-13-8 Kamikura, Shingu-shi, Wakayama-ken