Fire Festival of Toba
Toba no Hi-matsuri/Toba Dai-kagaribi (The Great Bonfire of Toba)

2nd Sunday of February
Climax: 19:30-20:30
Toba Shinmei-sha (shrine), Toba, Hazu-cho, Hazu-gun, Aichi pref.
Important Intagible Folk Cultural Property Designated by the National Government

photo by Yoshiyuki K

It is said that Toba-no-Himatsuri (Fire Festival of Toba) started approximately 1,200 years ago.
Originaly this festival had been held on January 7th of the lunar calendar of each year as the New Year ceremony.

People are formed themselves in two teams by the living area.
The East area of the Toba River is called Kanchi and the West is calld Fukuchi.
People choose a 25-year old man as a shin-otoko (a substitute of god/a holy man) in each area,
and every ceremony goes with them.

photo by Yoshiyuki K
One day before the festival , local people make two huge torches
called suzumi. They are mainly made of sun-dried kaya
(Japanese pampas grass) and 60 fresh bamboos (61in a leap-year).

In these years, it's hard to get
natural kaya due to the destruction of the natural environment.
It must be getting hard to keep up a tradition.

Two torches, approximately 5m high and weigh more than 2t each,
are planted
at the center of Toba Shinmeisha (shrine).

Shingi (a holy tree) are set inside of each toach (Suzumi), and the toaches are wrapped Juuninawa (twelve lopes which symbolize twelve months) are set.
Once the toaches are kindled, participants of the two areas compete each other by how fast they take out the shingi from burnning suzumi.
After they get the shingi, they offer them to the main shrine.
The harvest and weather of the year are devined by the condition of the burning suzumi and
the winning team.
It is said that if Fukuji (n: means happiness or fortune) team won, they will get generous harvest in the mountain area,
and if Kanko (n: means dry) team won, they will have droughts or natural disasters.

It is also said that if you make chopsticks with embers of the bamboos and have dinner at home,
you will not get disease of teeth, and if you use them for sericulture, you will get big amount of silk,.

though I don't know how to use them for sericulture.

The first highlight of the festival, Misogi (purification)
starts at 15:00.
Shin-otoko hold gohei and take the men
to the cold sea water in tow.
They stay in the sea until the paper streamers are
washed off from the rod of gohei.
Then they warm themselves up at the fire on the beach
and go back to the shrine.
"΍" means "Fire Festival"
Purification in the sea /photo by Yoshiyuki K

photo by Yoshiyuki K
Local people read the burning "suzumi"
Burn mightily sunshine
Amount of smoke rain
Sound of breaking bamboo thunderbolt
Billowing smoke typgoon

Hazu-cho, Sangyo-ka
TEL: 0563-63-0126

Get off at Mikawa-Toba Station on the Meitetsu Gamagouri line.
Walk 10 min.