Life in Seika, Japan

Howdy there! My name is Kai and I am the Coordinator for International Relations in Seika Town, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Hopefully by reading this blog you all will get a good picture of what life is like in Seika town, and all the great things that happen down here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Igomori Festival

The Igomori Festival is an ancient ritual in Seika Town which started as a means of driving off evil spirits which haunted the residents of an old local village. The festival lasts three days but the highlight is on the second night when a huge torch made of young bamboo trees roughly 15 feet long and weighing about 150 pounds is set ablaze in the shrine and carried through the streets. To add to the festivities food stalls and games are set up in front of the shrine and local residents come out to watch the event and enjoy the atmosphere.

As the torch is first lit inside of the shrine in a small building with a low ceiling I was pretty nervous that the whole place was going to catch on fire. Everyone assured me that it would be fine and since they have been doing this festival for a long time in the same place I figured it must be tried and true. In the end everything was fine but when the bonfire was set to light the torch the flames were reaching about 8 feet high and virtually licking the ceiling of the small structure. This is one thing that I love about Japan; often festivals such as this one are technically quite dangerous but since its tradition they carry on regardless of the apparent danger. I think if it was America festivals like this would be shut down by a flock of frantic lawyers and safety officials. After all, a little danger makes for excitement and fun right?!


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