Kurama Himatsuri









Kurama Himatsuri, Kurama Fire Festival,
Kurama, Kyoto

The Kurama Temple is known as the place where Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-89) was given to become a Buddhist priest. He was a child when the Genji clan broke the war, so he didn't know his birth secret. One day Karasu Tengu came to Yoshitsune, and told that he is the Genji. Tengu trained him in the art of sword and encouraged to defeat the Heike – the enemy of his clan Genji. Yoshitsune was coached by Karasu Tengu to move or even fly as quickly as a crow does.

Karasu Tengu is a goblin portrayed as an evil crow-like creature with the body of a man. It was capable of kidnapping adults and children, starting fires, and ripping apart those who wilfully damaged the forest. Sometimes Tengu would abduct human beings, only to release them later, but the survivor would return home in a state of dementia (called Tengu Kakushi, meaning hidden by Tengu).

Kurama Fire Festival (Kurama Himatsuri) begins at sunset with the lighting of open flames in front of each house. Then people carry flaming torches in a procession to purify their homes. First very young boys with small torches start marching encouraged by their parents. Then older boys (in twos and threes) parade up and down the street with heavier, longer torches. Finally, the grown up men appear straining under the crushing weight of their massive torches. They march on and jump around swinging the large flame back and forth, all the while singing and shouting, sai-rei, sai-ryo! (festival, good festival!). The climax is reached at 9 pm , as torches gather one by one in front of the Yuki Shrine, and suddenly, a group of cheering men races up the stairs to the shrine carrying a large mikoshi to make the annual offering to the gods.

The festival is said to have been originated from the historical event where villagers welcomed a deity who was enshrined in the Imperial Palace to Kurama. The emperor started in 794 to send torchbearers from the palace to the village every year.

Mt. Kurama is 12km due north of Kyoto Imperial Palace . The Kurama Temple was founded in 770 as the guardian of the northern quarter of the capital city (Heiankyo). More than six million years ago, the great king of the conquerors of evil and the spirit of the earth descended upon Mt. Kurama from Venus, with the great mission of salvation of mankind. The founder of the Kurama Temple , led by a white horse, climbed up to this holy place. His soul was enlightened with the realisation of the protector of the northern quarter of the Buddhist heaven and the spirit of the sun. 








































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