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 traditional event that takes place every winter on January 15th in the village of Nozawa Onsen, located in the Hokuriku Shinetsu region of japan. This festival is dedicated to Dosojin, a deity believed to protect against bad luck and bring good fortune, especially in the areas of childbirth and marriage.

The festival is centered around a temporary shrine called a shaden, which is built by the villagers the day before the festivities begin. The shrine is constructed using wooden poles and other materials, and it serves as the focal point for the festival. The main objective of the festival is to burn down the shrine, and this is done through a series of battles between the villagers.

The festival is unique in that it involves different age groups of men from the village. In particular, men who are 25 and 42 years old play a significant role in the festival. These ages are considered to be unlucky in Japanese astrology, and the festival is a way to protect the men from any misfortunes associated with these ages.

The men aged 25 are responsible for defending the shrine from the attacks of the other villagers. They stand at the bottom of the shrine, holding ropes that are attached to the structure. Their job is to prevent the shrine from being set on fire and to protect it at all costs.

On the other hand, the men aged 42 have the role of singing and chanting during the festival. They stand on top of the shrine and use their voices to create an atmosphere of energy and excitement. Their chants and songs are believed to help ward off any evil spirits and bring good luck to the village.

The festival begins with a call to bring on the fire, and this is when the battle between the villagers and the shrine begins. The villagers, carrying torches made from bundled reed, attack the shrine and try to set it on fire. The men aged 25 defend the shrine with all their might, while the men aged 42 continue to sing and chant.

The battle between the villagers and the shrine is intense and filled with sparks and flames. It is a sight to behold as the night sky lights up with the glow of the torches and the heat of the fire. The festival reaches its climax when the shrine is finally set ablaze, marking the end of the festivities.

The fire burns throughout the night and into the next day, creating a sense of warmth and unity among the villagers. It is believed that by roasting and eating rice cakes over the fire, one can ensure good health and protection against illness for the entire year.

Aside from its religious and cultural significance, the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is also a major tourist attraction. People from all over Japan and even from other countries come to witness the spectacle and experience the unique atmosphere of the festival. The festival offers a glimpse into the rich traditions and beliefs of the Japanese people, and it is a celebration of community and unity.

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 is a convenient option for those coming from Tokyo or other major cities.

Alternatively, one can take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Iiyama, which takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes. From Iiyama, the Nozawa Onsen Liner bus can be taken, which takes about 25 minutes to reach the festival site. There are also direct buses available from Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagoya during the winter season.

The festival takes place in a square called Dosojinba, which is located about a five-minute walk from the Oyu public bathhouse on the main street. The square is transformed into a vibrant and lively space during the festival, with food stalls, traditional performances, and various other activities for visitors to enjoy.

In addition to the main festival, there are also other attractions and activities to explore in Nozawa Onsen. The village is famous for its hot springs, known as onsens, which are believed to have healing properties. Visitors can take a dip in the hot springs and relax after a day of festivities.

Nozawa Onsen is also known for its oyaki, a type of grilled dough pocket with savory fillings. These delicious treats are a must-try during the festival, and they can be found at food stalls and local shops throughout the village.

Overall, the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is a truly unique and captivating event that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Japan. It is a celebration of tradition, community, and spirituality, and it offers a glimpse into the beliefs and customs of the Japanese people. Whether you are interested in the religious aspects of the festival or simply want to witness a spectacular display of fire and passion, the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is an experience that should not be missed.

Address And Maps Location:

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

Find Location And Direction On Google Maps

Subscribe, follow