Nozawa Fire Festival is held on January 15th every year in the Nozawa Onsen village of Nagano prefecture. It is the brightest fire festival you can witness in January. The energy and heat of this festival are incredible.
Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is called ‘Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Matsuri’ in Japanese. It is a rare, unusual, energetic and exciting festival. It is revered as one of the top three fire festivals in Japan. The festival is for ‘Dosojin’, the Japanese road gods who are believed to protect travelers. It is also a festival of luck for the 25 and 42-year-old men who are considered unlucky according to some Japanese beliefs.
During the festival night, a giant wooden tower called the ‘shaden’ is erected and then set on fire with torches by rushing villagers. The 25-year-old people should stop the villagers from burning the shaden by protecting its base while the 42-year-old protect the top. This continues for hours and finally, the shaden has to be burnt. Many visitors who come to the festival watch the bonfire with sake. This festival is designated as an intangible cultural property of Japan. It is a festival of good luck and harvest. Many mothers bring their first child to the event as it is believed that it would ward off any evil spirits from the family.
As exciting as it may sound, the festival is actually quite dangerous. Playing with fire does not always go well. You may get scorched by the flames. Be careful; do not wear any easily flammable clothes when you are near the bonfire. You can enjoy free sake here served by the families participating in the festival. You are welcome to take as many pictures as you can, but you should be careful not to push or disturb anyone in the crowd. The festival is considered extremely sacred by some families and they won`t tolerate any disrespect from pushy tourists.
On a cold snowy winter night in January, view and feel the heat of the Nozawa Fire Festival and take back home a lot of stunning pictures and videos.