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.
The highlight of the Oniyo Festival in Daizenji Tamatare-gu Shrine is Taimatsu-mawashi, when the first team sets fire to the first of six giant torches made from a frame of bamboo stuffed with pine branches. Each of the torches is over a meter in diameter, thirteen meters in length and weighs over a ton. Before setting the first one on fire, all lights are turned-off. The only source of light for the hundreds of spectators comes from the one torch bearer who lights the grand flame.

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