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Hachiman Matsuri in Omi-Hachiman is Shiga Prefecture's biggest fire festival. Impressive even without the fire. Just look at these giant torches made of rice straw. There are more in front of Himure Hachimangu Shrine.
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The giant torches can be as high as 10 meters. They are made on the Sunday before April 14-15 when the festival is held. So these torches have been here since Sunday. In front of Taneya.
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A long bamboo pole stiffens the torches which really look like sculpture. The festival is held on April 14-15. On the 14th, they burn these giant torches one by one from 8 pm.
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Torch top look similar, but they are different.
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There are torches for the villages which partake in this festival. This is in front of Taneya, a local confection shop.
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Very artistic and aesthetic.
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These green torch will also burn. There are two of these green ones, one is male and other is female.
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Keep away from the stone lanterns.
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The torches are propped up with bamboo poles and ropes.
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More torches in front of Himure Hachimangu Shrine. This is also where they hold the Sagicho Matsuri in March. MAP
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Torches near Himure Hachimangu Shrine's Romon Gate. This is also one location where the film Idai Naru, Shurararabon (偉大なる、しゅららぼん The Great Shu Ra Ra Boom) was filmed. The ceremony for baby Ryosuke.
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Two tall ones in front of Himure Hachimangu Shrine.
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All this to pray for an abundant harvest.
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In the afternoon of the 14th, people who made miniature torches can come to Himure Hachimangu Shrine and burn them.
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Burning miniature torches at Himure Hachimangu Shrine.
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Another tradition is to have children drag a miniature torch around a fire. In the old days, many children would be running around this fire.
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Smaller torches.
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This is in front of Taneya.
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At around 7 pm, people with taiko drums start to arrive.
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A few taiko processions arrive and marched around.
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At 8 pm, there's supposed to be fireworks, but due to the East Japan earthquake/tsunami, the fireworks were cancelled this year in 2011.
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Some time after 8 pm, they finally lit the first torch.
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Then they had smaller torches being dragged around by small groups of men and boys.
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The torches leave a trail of fire.
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It seems that they gathered all the smaller torches (which they dragged around) here.
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Now we see a large torch on fire. I noticed the flying embers falling on Taneya, but no problem.
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Another giant torch is set on fire. They use long bamboo poles mounted with small torches to light the giant torch. They first light the crown of the giant torch.
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They also light the mid-section of the torch.
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Then the whole thing catches fire quickly. I'm not sure if they used any kerosene, but I didn't smell any.
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Another torch burns. One after another, they set the giant torches on fire.
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Fire monster rages hotly.
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Fire monster
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It's amazing that the small, flying embers don't start fires nearby.
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Now come near the shrine with more giant torches.
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Giant torch.
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They light it from the top.
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Soon the entire torch burns.
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After a while, the torch falls to the ground. Of course, with ropes, they control which direction it falls. I should've brought marshmellows.
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This is the second to the last torch to be burned.
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Hachiman Matsuri fire festival, Shiga Prefecture.
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Watching this festival made me think how wonderful and miraculous this thing called fire is. We worship and need it, even though it can very destructive.
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It was already around 10 pm.
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But there was another torch to be set afire. This one was to be the climax. They would light this torch while it is still leaning sideways, then they gradually make it vertical as it burns.
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Leaning torch crown closeup.
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Leaning torch. Unfortunately, I had to catch the last train home so I didn't have time to see this torch burning. Maybe next time.
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Also, the next day on the 15th, they didn't bring out the usual taiko drums out of respect for the Tohoku quake/tsunami victims. Maybe I'll see it next year.
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Smaller torches to be lit before the final, leaning torch.
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My Hachiman Matsuri video.
   
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