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Nachi Fire Festival

Video: Nachi Fire Festival

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Nachi Fire Festival Torchbearer

Photos

Nachi Fire Festival

Nachi Fire Festival Assistant Spitting Water
Nachi Fire Festival Flames
Nachi Fire Festival Lucky Charcoal on Kids' Faces
Where
Nachi (Wakayama Prefecture), Japan

Japan

When
July 14 (Yearly)
Great For
  • Photographers
  • Culture Vultures
  • Pilgrims
  • Parade Lovers
Ticketed?
Free! No tickets required!

Basics

Nachi Fire Festival

Perspective looking up the steps as torchbearers come downEvery year, the Nachi Fire Festival (also known as the “Nachi no Ogi” and “Nachi no hi Masturi“) draws hundreds to the sacred shrine by the Nachi Waterfall, where 12 portable shrines are purified with 12 blazing torches as part of the highly anticipated ceremonies that begins at 1:50pm.

Capturing photos like these above are what hundreds of photographers wait several hours for. By the time we arrived, at 10am, most of the best photo vantage points were already taken. With many “sumimasen” (excuse me in Japanese) and the help of kind Japanese who made space for us, we finally found a point from which our photographer would be able to zoom in on the action while being right by where the torches would land. You won’t believe how close he (and especially his GoPro) got to the burning torches.

He has a hol(e)y shirt to prove that he had been baptized by fire!

While the torch procession is an awe-inspiring ritual well-deserving of being the highlight of the festival, if you’d like to catch additional devotion displayed through dance and music, you can hike for 15 minutes up the steep steps to the Seiganto-ji Temple, or drive there. During the 11:30am Nachi no Dengaku, the dancing musicians perform such an exhaustingly long and repetitive ritual dance that they have a scheduled break in which they’re ritualistically fanned!

Indeed, the dedication of the participants, and the orderliness of the audience, have made us huge fans of Japanese festivals.

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Don’t Miss an Event

Accommodation

  • Ideally, stay in Nachi and get tickets for hotel-exclusive areas of viewing Nachi Fire Festival.
  • If staying in town isn’t an option, EG recommends you stay in Kii-Katsura, an onsen town with our as-yet favorite Surf and Turf.

 

Search below for hotels, hostels or homestays in & near Nachi. This is a one-stop search engine that allows you to compare all accommodation options across many sites, including those on Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com. Starting your search here helps support our site–at no additional cost to you–so we can continue bringing you Eventful Events!

Transportation

Nearest airports are Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Shirahama Domestic Airport (SHM)

Search for flights below

  • Car Rental: As early as you can, rent a car within the Wakayama prefecture from 660 (which is the cheapest and provides free transfer), Orix (2nd cheapest), or Toyota.

  • Nearest stations for transfer to buses are Nachi, Shingu and Kii-Katsura.
  • From Kii-Katsura, get a Kumano Kotsu unlimited round trip bus ticket for 1000yen (500yen for a child) and take the bus all the way to Nachisan.
  • From Shingu Station, take the train or bus to Nachi Station. Note that trains are cheaper but less frequent.
  • From Nachi Station, take the bus and stop at Nachisan bus stop.

Tips

Photography
Arrive early for the best photo vantage points (or stay at a local hotel with reserved seats)
Experience
Collect some of the ash, which is considered blessed, as a free souvenir!
Reservations
Book hotels and rental cars early!
Plan ahead
Planning is key! Have your day’s priorities set in advance so you don’t miss out
Ceremonies
Many of the Ogi Mikoshi Togyo ceremonies are repeated later in the day at the shrine in front of the waterfall

Additional Info

Nachi Fire Festival

The Nachi Fire Festival is a holy rite that transports the deities enshrined at Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine to the Nachi Falls where they were enshrined by the founding emperor of Japan. 12 auspiciously adorned portable shrines shaped like the Nachi Falls are used to transfer the deities and 12 flaming torches made from sacred cypress purify the shrines.

Prior to the climatic ceremony involving torches, at Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine, you may wish to observe Yamatomai and Nachi no Dengaku. Yamatomai is a traditional dance performed by young girls and boys.

Nachi no Dengaku is also a traditional dance, but is performed by adult males only. This dance, a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, has its roots in farmers’ ritual dance to pray for and celebrate a bumper harvest.

The Nachi Festival is not only sacred but also awe-inspiring, a must-see for worshippers/pilgrims, Culture Vultures, and photographers.

If you hope to catch photos or videos of the festival, plan your day well and be prepared to make compromises. Getting the best vantage point for the fire ceremony requires arriving early and reserving your spot hours before the ceremony. This means you’ll miss every part of the festival that happens prior. Decide your priorities ahead of time.

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Stories

Nachi Fire Festival

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