Omihachiman Himatsuri (Taimatsu Fire Festival)
Every year giant sacred umbrella torches
(kasa taimatsu or hiraki taimatsu) made of
rape plant, reed, bamboo, cedar, rice straw, and white paper tassel are
set ablaze at the
Himure Hachimangu Shrine.
This ancient taimatsu fire festival has a history of over 1300 years.
The Omihachiman Himatsuri is one of the largest of its kind.
The Omi region around the small rural town of
Childrenfs sacred torches (kodomo taimatsu) are
provided with a white paper-sign (gohei)
at the top. They are made by the male members of families for their sons
of certain age. First the kodoma taimatsu are usually set up in front of
the entrance door of the house for several days. In the festival evening
they are carried to the shrine and set on fire together with the kasa
taimatsu as a sacrifice to the deity. What the kasa taimatsu are for the
community the kodoma taimatsu are for the individual house.
The fire festival (himatsuri) opens with the arrival of huge drums carried on big frames by men. The drums are beaten with thick sticks which produce a thundering sound. A group of old style firemen bring the initial fire by which the great torches are set ablaze, one after the other, in strict order of precedence. The resulting sea of fire immediately engulfs the tectonic structures, distorting and consuming them. It is amazing to experience the massive pillars of fire stretching into the night sky. The beats from the drums saturate the smoke and fire filled darkness.
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