A fire ritual with rising magnificent bonfires at Fushimi Inari Shrine
Hitaki sai (fire festivals) is one of common sights in November in Kyoto. The festivals have originated in folk beliefs dating back to the Edo Period(1603-1868) and at the beginning of winter, fire festivals are held in shrines everywhere in Kyoto. In these festivals, bundles of prayer sticks with worshippers’ written wishes are set alight on a premise as a holy fire is believed to purge away people’s sins and to grant wishes. Among these festivals, Fushimi Inari Shrine’s Hitaki-sai Fire Festival is considered most overwhelming in the country. Surprisingly, about 100,000 prayer sticks are sent from worshippers in every region of Japan wishing for their good health and prosperity. The highlight is the ritual of throwing prayer sticks into holy bonfires with flame and smoke shooting up to the air. A huge blaze is absolutely stunning and worthwhile watching! A great number of spectators from all over Japan visit Fushimi Inari Shrine to attend this dynamic Hitaki sai on the festival day.