Oniyo Fire Festival Part2 – Burning the Giant Torches

Part1 is HERE

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After 3 times of circle around the shrine, they then all gathered in front of the shrine belfry for the main event. When every group has arrived at their OH-TAIMATSU(big torches), all the small torches fire were put off, as well as other lamps and lights. The surrounding was in total darkness.

At exactly 9pm, everyone`s eyes went to one corner lit with a small light where a man was standing with a sea-shell(is it call sea-shell?) in his hand. He then started blowing the shell signing the start of the main event followed with a blow of some kind of music with a traditional flute.

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As the flute blow ended, the group of people started making fire to fire up the giant torches. With the 3,2,1 counting, they start burning the giant torches, which was poured with some alcohol(@ kerosene, am not so sure) before that. The quiet and dark surrounding then became lively as the place was brighten up by the fire, with drums beating and some performances at the front stage. While the torches were burning, they said their praying chants along. As the fire went further down the torches, they cut the ropes tiding them and threw the ropes to the crowds waiting, who believe that keeping them would bring good luck. If you look at the pictures, you might think that all the fire burnings look dangerous, as a matter of fact they are, but to ensure the safety of everyone, the firemen were present there at all time.

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When the fire had burnt about 1/3 of the torches, they then carried the torches one by one to a place in front of the main shrine, where they stopped there continuing their praying words for some time. After that, they carried the torches again, this time circling the shrine area until the torches were almost burnt up. During that time, they would stop a few times to have someone climb on the torch and cut the ropes around the it as the fire went towards the other end. The group behind us at one time had a British boy doing that and he was encouragingly cheered by his other group members. Lastly, they carried the torches to a disposing place and with a speech and some claps, they end their festival for this year.

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We then went back together with our group members to the civic hall. There, everyone was treated with some Japanese deserts and their most liked favorite drink, the green tea. We feel so lucky that we were given the opportunity to participate and watch from close a big traditional event like this one. We would like to thank the committee members for inviting us and even providing the transport for sending us back to college. Hope that they will invite us again next year, so that our friends who didn`t make it this time would also get the chance to experience your unique culture.よろしくお願いします!

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