Copyright 2003 - Jean-Philippe Soule

The Oniyo Festival is a Shinto ritual to expel evil spirits and epidemics. It is one of the three largest fire festivals in Japan along with Kurama Fire Festival in Kyoto and Nachi Fire Festival in Wakayama.
The festival has its origin in a 1600-year-old legend. It is now held every year on January 7 at the Daizenji Tamatare-gu Shrine.
When the six giant torches, called Taimatsu, are set afire, they are bright enough to light up the entire crowd. The fires produce an enormous amount of heat. Pieces of ash and bits of flaming wood fly through the crowd. The men in loincloths somehow manage to keep the torches under control with branches and sticks.

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