Japan Diaries: Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival (Part One)

Monday, August 17, 2020
At Nozawa Onsen on the 15th January
Nozawa Onsen village prepares for the Fire Festival
Nozawa Onsen prepares for the Fire Festival
Clearing the grounds for the Fire Festival
Clearing the grounds for the Fire Festival
Clearing the grounds for the Fire Festival
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
Villagers preparing the Fire Festival shrine
The beginning of the Fire Festival celebrations

Japan Diaries: Fire Festival (Dosojin Matsuri) at Nozawa Onsen Village, Japan on 15th January 2019. Photos taken by me and Hai with Canon D70 DSLR and Canon Pixel 3XL.

Every year, on the 15th of January, the quaint and sleepy Nozawa Onsen village starts finishing up their preparations for their annual Fire Festival. It's a exciting and fun festival and Hai and I arrived to this village two days before just to witness it. In fact, we planned our whole Japan four week honeymoon around this festival. Hai had intended to come here last time he went to Japan  but he missed it by a few days. This time around, we booked a room at the Elizabeth Hotel for three nights. We absolutely suggest booking early as accommodation gets booked out early!

Held on the same day every year, this festival pays tribute to the Fire Gods (also known as dosojin). The festival originally was a folklore cultural event asking the gods to bring good harvest, health, good ski season and good fortune for the upcoming year. Now its done to celebrate the birth of a family’s first child, to dispel evil spirits and also to pray for happy marriage.

13th and 14th of January

The trees start getting cut down in October and bought down from the surrounding mountains and the wood is prepared. It takes approximately 100 villagers to build the huge structure that would be the main attraction at the festival. It is also known as the shrine or shaden and it starts getting built on the 13th of January continuing until late at night on the 14th. The main event starts on the 15th: the "Fire-Setting Battle". This staged battle is performed by only men that are 42 and 25 years of age which are deemed as "unlucky ages".

The morning of 15th January

Hai and I went down to the main grounds to witness the villagers complete the shaden on the 15th. The villagers work hard - tightening the structure with ropes, place piles of wicks at the top, and shovelling snow up so the area is clean before the main event starts.  Stripped down logs are assembled into a tall 7m high shaden with a platform at the top for the group of the 42 year old men to sit on during the staged battle. The 25 year olds will stand at the bottom standing guard.

When the shaden has been completed, the priest from the Kosuge shrine performs a ceremony endowing it with a dosojin. 
Hai and I went back to the main street to have dinner and to prepare to come back at night. We came back and gathered around the shaden while other villagers and tourists waited with us. There were thousands of people waiting and as the sun set, the festival began. 

Part Two: The night of 15th January

Stayed tuned as Part Two blog post will feature the night time of the 15th. We were so excited to see this once in a lifetime event!


22 comments :

  1. Oh it sounds like such an interesting festival, and it's good you were able to be there to see it all this time, even the setup! :)

    Hope that your week is off to a nice start :)

    Away From Blue

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting me! Yes I loved the history behind this fire festival :)

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  2. I loved this post 😊 thanks for your sharing 😊

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  3. It's wonderful to watch such winter photos in hot August :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thanks for visiting! I feel the same way when I see the Holiday photos in winter when we are in hot December

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  4. What a wonderful view! I love your hairstyle <3

    czytanko.pl

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh wow this trip looked amazing! What fun festival. It is so hot now would not mind seeing some snow!! LOL!

    Allie of
    www.allienyc.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, I feel the same too about summer! It's Winter here in Australia. Thanks for visiting <3

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  6. Such a great post! I love the history behind this festival, it is so interesting. Your photos are amazing too xx
    Janet
    www.rediscoveringmystyle.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thank you so much for visiting. The history was definitely one of the reasons why we made the trip here <3

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  7. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post keep your awesome work
    I have many hobbies. I love to travel and read. But my favorite hobby is cooking. Let me tell you why! First, I'll tell you a little bit about why I started cooking. Secondly, I'll give you some information about what I like to cook. Third, I will say how I use the Blog ẩm thực for cooking.

    When I started cooking, I was 10 years old. My mom wants me to be a chef. She has always believed that girls have to make different types of food, because one day they will get married. In my country, it is normal for girls not to cook. I feel lucky because I can cook many dishes. Now that I cook some of the dishes my children and husband love, I become happy and proud of my mother and myself. Foody

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  8. OMG, this place looks amazing! *.*

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  9. How nice to discover customs in other countries! This bonfire is very beautiful and the videos are beautiful too :)
    Hi, would you like to follow each other?
    fiftyshadesfashion.com Blog
    My Instagram

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting! It was amazing to learn about other cultures, we were lucky :)

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  10. Wow this festival looks brilliant! Hope you had a great time. Your photos are amazing! x

    Helen | www.whathelenloves.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for visiting, we had a great time! <3

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x Natalie

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