Oniyo Fire Festival Part1 – Burning the Decorations

*Some photos in the post are not suitable for 17years and below`s viewing…

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Oniyo Fire Festival, which is held in Daizenji Tamatare-gu Shrine in Kurume-city, is one of the three largest fire festivals in Japan. This event takes place on the last day of the Shinto ritual, ONI-E , on the 7th of January every year.

According to the diary of  Yakushiji Temple, the festival originated from a happening  in the year 368, when Fujidaijin(a minister at that time) cut off the head of Yusurachin, who was torturing local people, and burnt it.

On this 7th day after New Year,  they will have a Shinto ritual during the festival in where people pray for peace and safety , good harvest and the prevention of disasters as well as to ward off evil spirits.

This year we got an invitation from the event`s committee to take part in the event. We were excited to join but when told that we would have to wear cawat during the festival, we declined the invitation. Kami tak sanggup nak pakai cawat tu. Sebab bukak aurat satu, pastu nak pakai tengah winter yang sejuk beku ni? Event tu malam pulak tu. Tak sanggup!

However, a few days after that, we were told that we can join the event as a 見学者(observer) and we agreed. However, as our substitutes, four Japanese junior students came forward to join the cawat group. And on evening January the 7th, off we go riding on Pakcik Kida`s car.(Pakcik Kida is from our hostel`s office)

We get off at Yamanomachi Civic Hall, where we would join the Yamanomachi`s locals who would participate in the event. During the festival, they will be 5 more groups from the other areas and they will gather at some place near the shrine later. We arrived quite early, so while waiting for the others to come we were served with some food. Then, more and people came and joined us at the table. Some of them looked scary, some looked like yakuzas, but when we try and have some chat with them, we found out that all of them were very friendly. They were all excited because they don`t have  that much chance socializing with foreigners like this. We got ourselves busy entertaining  their questions about our countries, cultures etc. Oh ya, at the same time, maybe encouraged by excitement on those people`s faces, our Laos friend, Danang suddenly told his desire to join them. Without much hesitation they welcomed him and upstairs Danang went to change into the cawat. After that he was told to take some sake(liquor) to heat his body as it will be ice-freezing outside.

At about 700pm, when everyone was finally present, they had some briefing and then off we went heading to the shrine.

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At a field near the shrine, they started burning the New Year`s house decorations made from dry wheat branches. They burnt them in groups divided according to their origin areas while chanting their praying words.

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These guys below are my juniors, and at the most right is Danang. Tengok macam sejuk giler. Tapi, since most of the time they were near the fire, they were actually very hot. I tried going close to the fire and it was sangat panas ok. But when you distanced yourself from it, it`ll be freezing-cold. So, you must have the skills to determine the appropriate distance from the fire so that you won`t be to hot, or too cold. Suam-suam kuku kata orang.. =P

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At about 830pm, it was almost time for the main event.The group paraded to the shrine and circle the shrine area 3 times carrying their small torches before gathering  at the places where the big torches are.

These big torches which are made from MOSO-DAKE(the biggest kind of bamboo in Japan), are called OH-TAIMATSU. They are 6 of them and they are 1meter in diameter, 15 meters long and weigh 1.2 tons each. These  OH-TAIMATSU are placed in front of the belfry in the shrine yard.

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To be continued in Part 2…

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2 Responses to Oniyo Fire Festival Part1 – Burning the Decorations

  1. halfi says:

    OMG! ne gambar kau pake costume ya? hehehe

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