Fire and ice in Akita ?❄️
The Kakunodate Fire and Snow Festival (火振りかまくら, Hiburi Kamakura) is a traditional event that takes place every year in Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture. It originated in the 1600s and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It also invites the positive energy of good spirits, or ‘kami’, while driving away evil spirits. The ritual is still practiced today and this year, it will be held on February 13th and 14th.
There will be “little igloos” called kamakura along the frozen Kinokinai River, in which locals will offer mochi balls and sake to the water god at the start of the night. Later, a bonfire is lit and bales of hay and charcoal are tied up with lengths of straw rope. The hiburi dancers must swing the bales of flame over their heads and around their bodies, withstanding intense heat and dense clouds of smoke until the flames are flickering just inches away from the hands, which signifies that they have finally forced out the evil spirits of the winter. When many hiburi dancers come together, it truly is a sight to behold against the wintery landscape.
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