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The name of the festival is "Hiwatari," literally meaning fire crossing. They make a big fire, then allow people to walk over the embers. This is the centerpiece of the festival, a pile of cypress tree branches to be burned.
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This festival is held on the second Sunday every March at the foot of Mt. Takao. It takes less than an hour from Shinjuku via the Keio Line. Train fare is only 370 yen. The pile of tree branches is supported by a wooden framework. A priest pours kerosene.
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The festival site is a short walk from Takao-san-guchi Station. It's held in this large lot cordoned off by a sacred rope. This festival is held as a prayer for traffic safety, household safety, and personal safety. It is held by the Yakuoin Yukiji Te
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Various ceremonies, rituals, and chanting takes place during one hour from 1 pm. Divine ax used to cut away earthly desires.
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Divine arrow to ward off any life-threatening devils. The festival is executed by the mountain ascetic priests called yamabushi.
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He shoots an arrow into the pile from the four corners.
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This long torch will be used to ignite the pile.
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The pile is first ignited from two sides.
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The pile catches fire very easily due to the kerosene. Even at this distance, it gets very hot. Also see the video at YouTube.
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Dai-hiwatari Festival, Mt. Takao, Tokyo
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She was tossing out these paper things to the crowd.
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Raking the fire. They are making the footpath for fire walkers.
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Raking the fire
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This priest splashed the boiling contents of this pot over himself.
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Head priest
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Blessing the path
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First the priests walked on the fire.
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Walking on fire
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Hiwatari fire-crossing festival, Mt. Takao, Tokyo
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Before and after walking over the fire, they stick their feet into a pile of salt.
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After crossing the fire, each person is blessed by the head priest with a tap on the shoulder by a baton.
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After the priests, the general public is invited to stand in line and cross the fire for free.
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I always wondered how hot it was to walk on the fire, so this time I decided to walk over the fire just to see how much heat my feet could bear. Also see the video at YouTube.
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Long line: It took us over 30 minutes to reach the fire.
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End of the line. It reads, "Saikobi."
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Everyone crosses barefoot, so we took off our shoes as we approached the fire crossing.
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First we pass through a gauntlet of chanters.
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Then we stick our feet in salt.
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This is what it looked like by the time we got there. Hardly any fire. It was somewhat wet, and it did not feel hot or warm at all. Pretty disappointing...This is what it looked like by the time we got there. Hardly any fire. It was somewhat wet, and it did not feel hot or warm at all. Pretty disappointing...
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End of the walk. Again we dip our feet in salt. We all ended up with muddy feet. There was no place to wash our feet either. Bringing wet tissues is highly recommended if you plan to walk on the fire.
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Priests parade back to temple.
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Yamabushi--mountain ascetic priests. They carried a conch-shell-like instrument.
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Back at the Yakuoin temple which belongs to the Shingon Sect of Buddhism. 薬王院
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Costume gals. Even these girls walked on the fire.

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