Fire Walking Festival at Mt. Takao

Last Sunday, we headed out to Mount Takao to check out the fire walking festival (Hiwatari-sai). We got there just in time to catch the procession of yamabushi monks walking towards the festival grounds.

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We quickly follow the procession, making sure to follow the locals who seem to know where they are going.

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We arrive in front of a shrine and there were lots of chanting in front of it. Then the procession moves to the final location where there is a giant pile of leaves placed in the middle of an open space.

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Both jojo and I were pretty clueless with what’s going on. All we got from the experience was that there was about half an hour of chanting. Lots of chanting before they finally light the big pile of leaves.

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The smoke start slowly and soon there was a good fire going. We were really happy that we did not stand on the mountain side or we would’ve been eating smoke.

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Couple of fire trucks stood by to make sure everything was under control.

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There’s something awesome about watching a giant fire burn. After about 15 minutes of additional chanting, the monks start to pour buckets of water on the fire. Eventually it’s time to fire walk.

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Common people can walk over the fire after the monks. Jojo and I were pretty chanted out by then so we didn’t do it. The lineup for the fire walk was pretty long and we would’ve been walking in sluggy ash by the time we got there anyway.

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We made our way to the chairlift to take us to Yakuoin Temple at the top of the mountain. I pretty much hyperventilated through the entire ride up the mountain because the chairlifts DO NOT have any railings. I repeat, these little flimsy buckets of plastic did not have any railings. And the only thing between me and the bottom of the forest floor was a see through net. I pretty much wrapped myself around a pole and reminded myself to keep breathing. I may have chanted a little.

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The temple is quite big and required a lot of stair climbing. At one point, an American guy behind us exclaimed that he never wants to climb stairs again when he leaves Asia.

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We walked around for about an hour or so before heading back down the mountain by tram. The chairlifts were closed by the time we left. My disappointment of not having to experience the little plastic buckets of potential death on the way down was palpable.

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