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Festivals of Japan: Nachi no Hi Fire Festival

Nachi no Hi Fire Festival is one of the three largest fire festivals in all of Japan.

By 2 min read

The Nachi no Hi Fire Festival in Wakayama Prefecture is one of the most spectacular fire festivals in Japan. It is held at the famous Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine in the World Heritage Kii Mountain Range of Wakayama Prefecture.

Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine which hosts the festival is a Shinto shrine nested in the stunning Kii Mountain range. The shrine is surrounded by ancient cedar forests and is located near the scared Nachi no Taki (Great Waterfall of Nachi), which is believed to be inhabited by a kami (Shinto spirit). The shrine was one of the main destinations of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage routes and is located halfway up Mount Nachi.

The Nachi no Hi Fire Festival is a celebration of the deity, which lives at the shrine returning to Nachi no Taki, its original home once a year on July 14th.

Festival Highlights

The Nachi no Hi Fire Festival gives you the chance to see an ancient Shinto festival in an amazing part of Japan surrounded by green mountains and crystal clear rivers.

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The highlight of the festival is the 12 portable shrines called mikoshi in Japanese. The mikoshi are 6 meters high, decorated with ogi fans and mirrors and designed to represent the sacred Great Waterfall of Nachi, which at 133 meters is Japan’s highest waterfall. People have worshipped the Great Falls of Nachi as a deity since ancient times.

The mikoshi are brought down from the mountain, where they are met by 12 white-robed men, each holding a 50-kg flaming torch.

The 12 huge pine torches, which represent the 12 deities dwelling in Kumano are lit at the base of the Great Waterfall of Nachi and the carried up and down in a ritual procession to purify the mikoshi, which are also purified by the mist coming off the sacred waterfall. Legend says this is how the gods of Kumano make their annual journey to their spiritual home (Great Waterfall of Nachi) to revive themselves before returning to their shrines where they stay the rest of the year.

The Nachi no Hi Fire Festival is a truly spectacular festival that lets you feel the spiritual power of Kumano.

Festival Information:

Location: Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine
When: July 14th
Time: 11:00 am to 3:30 pm with the main event at around 2:00 pm
Cost: Free

From Tokyo take the JR Tokaido Shinkansen to Nagoya and then the JR Nanki Limited Express onto the Kii Peninsula. You can reach Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine by bus from both Kii Katsura Station and Nachi Station.

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