“Todai-ji Temple Nigatsu-do” is a large-scale Buddhist temple located in the northeastern part of Todai-ji Temple, a little away from the area where “Great Buddha Hall” is located. It is famous nationwide for “Omizutori” (Water-Drawing) that scatters fire powder. Also, within the precincts of Todai-ji Temple, it is a popular tourist spot next to the Great Buddha Hall. The foundation of Nigatsudo dates back to the Nara period.
The reason why “Nigatsu-do” is named “Nigatsu” (February) is derived from the fact that “Omizutori” takes place in February in the lunar calendar. In the end of Heian period and the end of Warring States, Nigatsu-do did not burn during the war that struck Todai-ji Temple. However, unfortunately, it was burned off due to the misfire during the 1667 “Omizutori”. The current building was rebuilt two years after the burn.
Because Nigatsu-do is located on a slope, the stage and corridor part facing west are built to extend forward. The innumerable trees arranged on the ground support the upper corridor. Such a structure is called “Kakezukuri style”. It was designated as a national treasure in 2005 because it is a precious structure that conveys the tradition of “Omizutori”.
“Omizutori” gets crowded with tourists around March 12 every year. This event was originally started at a major temple during the Nara period, as a Buddhist event corresponding to the annual prayer for praying for good harvest at the beginning of the year. Among them, “Omizutori” of Todai-ji Temple has continued without interruption as “Gyoho of non-retrogression” since 752. Now it takes 2 weeks from 3/1 to 3/14 of the new calendar.
Known as the so-called “Otaimatsu”, an event that attracts many tourists takes place in “Hongyo” starting from 3/1. When “Rengyoshu” (the eleven priests participants in Omizutori) comes to a stand on the first night of the ceremony (7 pm), a big torch will illuminate the feet. It is said that burning torches are set up on the stage, and the visitors who see under the stage are exposed to fire powder, and if they take this fire powder, they will be able to live without illness.
“Hongyo” will have a climax on 3/12. The huge Kago Taimatsu torch (twenty-six feet long) is lit and “Rengyoshu” goes to the water of Wakasa Well under Nigatsu-do Hall during prayer, and is served to the eleven-faced Kannon.
“Omizutori” (Water-Drawing Festival) is one of the religious austerities performed in the Todaiji Nigatsu-do in Nara Prefecture every year. It is correctly called “Shuni-e.” Every year, basic practices are performed from March 1 to the 14th. Since winter has ended when this event finishes, it is also called the event which tells spring. This is a traditional event which continues from the Nara period, and has not stopped since 752.
Huge “Otaimatsu” (big torches) runs about the stage of Nigatsu-do, and sparks are poured from a railing. 11 Buddhist monks called Rengyo-shu religiously purify themselves by abstaining from eating meat and hold a training camp, confess their sins to the principal image of Nigatsu-do Hall Juichimen Kannon-zo (Eleven-faced Kannon) and pray for the security of the state and affluent life for the nation. It is the miraculous festival which continues for approximately 1,300 years which has not stopped once from the Nara period.
There is a rear approach located on the north side of the Kondo (Daibutsu-den [Great Buddha Hall]) of the Todai-ji Temple famous for “the colossal Buddha of Nara”, the way of the emotional stone pavement spreads out. It is the way surrounded by the white wall and the mud wall, and the building in these depths is “the Nigatsu-d of theTodai-ji Temple.” It is a stage where “Omizutori” is performed.
There is a well called Wakasa-i (Wakasa Well) which draws the water offered to “Juichimen Kannon” (Eleven-faced Kannon) in front of the Nigatsu-do. Water is offered to the Kannon in order to apologize for man’s sinfulness. It is “Shuni-e” that it became a form and it is religious austerities offered to “Juichimen Kannon.”
It is said that water vein is connected from Obama(an ancient Japanese administrative district called Wakasa) to Fukui in this Wakasa-i.
Ten days before “Shuni-e” being held by Todai-ji Temple, shinto rituals of “Omizokuri” (Water-Sending Festival) is performed in Jingu-ji Temple of Obama. It is said that the water sent by the shinto rituals reaches Nigatsu-do, and it is “Omizutori” to scoop the water.
The tradition continued for approximately 1,300 years still binds Fukui and Nara together by an invisible relationship.
|Name:||Todaiji Temple Omizutori (Water-Drawing Festival)|
|Address:||Zoshicho 406-1 Nara, Nara 630-8211 Japan|
|Access:||Kintetsu Nara-sen Line “Kintetsu-Nara-eki” station (20 minutes walk)|
|Price / Charge:||Free|