Nozawa Fire Festival
Location: Kosuge Shrine, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
The Nozawa Fire Festival is renowned in Dosojin and is held annually from January 13th to 15th. It is known as one of the three major fire festivals in Japan. With wishes for a bountiful harvest, good health, and luck, the Nozawa festival attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists who comes to witness and participate in the festivities yearly.
According to Japanese history, this festival dates back to the mid-1800s, but its origins are traced much further back. The festival is illuminated by torches carried by participants, known as shaden. In Japanese culture, men between the ages of 25 and 42 are considered unlucky. Therefore, this festival combines ancient New Year traditions with rituals marking a turning point in protecting these men.
One day before the festival, 42-year-old men sit atop the shrine and sing for the deity to hear, while 25-year-old men stand below to hold and pull the shrine. As the festival approaches, they shout: "BRING THE FIRE HERE, BRING THE FIRE HERE!" In response to these cries, people bring torch bundles, and the shrine is set ablaze. The men must hold the ropes to protect the shrine no matter what happens.
The festival concludes when the shrine is completely burned down. The lingering embers continue to burn until the next day, and people bring rice cakes and other foods to cook, believing that the food prepared over this fire will bring health to those who consume it.
Photo: nozawaonsenjapan; hakuba