Otaimatsu-shiki (Torches Festival), Kyoto

At the Seiryoji Temple (Saga Shakado) in Kyoto Sagano, “Fire Festival” is held on March 15 every year to announce the spring. It is called “Kyoto Three Great Fire Festival” together with the autumn “Kurama Fire Festival”, the midsummer “Gozan Okuribi”. This is a traditional event that sets fire on a large torch with a height of 7 meters set in the premises of Seiryoji Temple, to tell fortunes the wealth of agricultural crops of the year due to the strength of the fire.


Seiryoji Temple in Saga-ku, Kyoto-shi is a temple of Jodo sect and is a temple known as Sagashakado (Shakado Hall) with the mountain name called Godaisan. It is a historical old temple with treasure of numerous important cultural assets, including the Buddha statue of national treasure.


Every March 15th, at Seiryoji Temple, Nehane Ritual (anniversary of Buddha’s death) and Otaimatsu-shiki are held from around 20 o’clock. Otaimatsu-shiki ignites the three torches of 7 meters in height, and it does fortune-telling the abundance of agricultural crops of that year due to the strength of the fire.
People does not gather so much yet around 18 o’clock when dusk begins, so you can go close to the torches and see the size of them.


Around 20 o’clock, the row of large paper lantern on a pole came to the square in the precincts where the giant pine torches are installed from the main hall, and at the signal the event of Otaimatsu starts. First of all, a fire is put in the gomadan (an altar used in homa fire rituals), and a tremendous smoke rises. After that, the fire of gomadan is transferred to the giant pine torches in turn, and the flame burns from the torch in a blink of an eye.


From any place in the precincts you can see the burning fire. Especially when you come close to a big torch, you can see how much sparks that you think would probably burn the night sky curl up in the sky. The momentum of the big torch’s fire will weaken in about 30 minutes and the ceremony will end at 21 o’clock.




Name:Otaimatsu-shiki (Torches Festival)
Address:Sagashakadofujinokicho 46 Kyoto Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8447 Japan
Access:JR Sanin-honsen Line “Saga-Arashiyama-eki Station” (15 minutes walk)
Tel:(+81) 75-861-0343
Official site:http://seiryoji.or.jp/

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