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Shingu Shrine (新宮神社) near Shigaraki Station holds the annual Shigaraki Fire Festival on the fourth Sat. of July closest to July 23.It is a torch procession of 700 people (including children) who carry wooden torches on their shoulders from Shingu Shrine to Atago Shrine on a hill and ending at the parking lot of the Shimin Center.
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The festival starts at 7 pm and the route is about 2.4 km long, taking about 50-60 min. From 9 pm, they shoot fireworks.
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The festival is held to give thanks to fire (for use in pottery kilns, industry, everyday life, etc.) and to pray for fire safety.
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Pile of wood to be lit as a bon fire to light the torches.
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Shingu Shrine ready for the festival.
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Three large torches.
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Smaller torches on the side. Torch bearers make their own torches using the provided materials.
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Shingu Shrine
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Shingu Shrine
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Reception counter for torch bearers.
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Chinese protest drum with a rooster on top symbolizing peace in the land.
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The torch procession route will be lined with paper lanterns in front of the shrine.
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Pouring kerosene into the large torches.
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Before 7 pm, they light a few fire lamps.
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They held a Shinto ceremony at the shrine from 7 pm to 7:25 pm.
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A small candle flame inside a lantern dedicated at the shrine is carried to the large pile of wood at around 7:30 pm.
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Bon fire is lit.
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Since the wood pile had been drenched with kerosene, it lit up very quickly.
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Burned hot and high. It got quite hot even at this distance. I thought my camera would melt.
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First the large torches led the procession.
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Then they started lighting the torches one after another and proceeded along the route.
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Shigaraki Fire Festival in late July in Koka, Shiga Prefecture.
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They all carry the torches on their shoulders.
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Now the kids light their torches and off they go.
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Torch bearers pass through the torii as they leave the shrine.
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First they go along the main street toward Shigaraki Station. In the background is a Shigaraki pottery shop.
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Not a crowded festival at all.
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Crossing Asahi Bridge.
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Then they turn right and go along the river toward Atago Shrine.
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The torch bearers end up at the Shimin Center parking lot (where the pottery festival is held in autumn).
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The Shimin Center parking lot had a large fire where the torch bearers dumped their torches at the end of the route.
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Next to the fire were taiko drummers entertaining the crowd.
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The Shigaraki taiko drummers were very good. 信楽太鼓「炎」
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Shigaraki taiko drummers
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Shigaraki taiko drummers' main competitor for attention was the smartphone (or maybe Pokemon Go).
   
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