The Takisanji Oni Matsuri is held at Takisanji Temple every February and it normally takes place on a Saturday closest to the date of the Lunar New Year. For the 2016 festival, it will be held on February 13th. This festival is also called the ‘Ogre Fire Festival’ and it is a totally fun event to watch. Let’s get to know more about this awesome festival.
During the festival, males of ages 42, 25 and 12 participate in a fire ceremony with ceremonial goblin masks on. The festival is held in the main hall of the Takisanji Temple in Okazaki, Aichi, Japan. 3 people of the aforementioned ages are randomly selected by the local participants. The 42-year-old chosen wears the mask of a goblin grandfather, the 25-year-old wears the mask of goblin grandmother, and the 12-year-old wears the mask of the grandson. In addition, 30 men of same ages carry torches and pretend to chase the three masked males chanting slogans.
The amount of fire involved in this event is stunning. If you are visiting the festival for the first time, do not wear clothes that can easily catch fire. Be careful with the crowds pushing and taking pictures. Do not block anyone`s view and enjoy your festival viewing graciously. Though you need not run after the crowd chasing the goblins, it is fun to follow them down the roads.
Takisanji Temple was built in the 7th century A.D. by an ascetic priest during the era of Emperor Tenmu. The temple was previously called ‘Kishoki Temple’ as the god of healing used to be worshiped here. Later it was transformed into a Zen temple by a priest named Kanden who was the elder cousin of the founder of Kamakura Shogunate Minamato Yoritomo. Yoritomo’s hair and teeth were preserved inside the temple after his death by Kanden. There is a Shinto shrine in addition to the temple and it is considered as one of the top 3 ‘Toshogu’ shrines in Japan. The main hall and the gates of the Takisanji temple are designated as important cultural properties of Japan.
It takes approximately 30 minutes by train from Nagoya to Higashi Okazaki on the Meitetsu Main Line. From Higashi Okazaki station, you can take a bus to Takisanji-shita which would take at least 25 minutes to reach. During the festival, additional bus services are also made available for everyone to visit the temple and enjoy the event.