The Sunakake Matsuri is an ancient festival that began approximately 1,300 years ago during the reign of Emperor Temmu, initially as a part of the Oimi no Matsuri. Widely known as a bizarre festival of the Yamato region, the Sunakake Matsuri is held in order to pray for good harvest, plentiful rain and the expelling of evil spirits.
An Onda Matsuri (rice-planting festival) is a type of festival held all over Japan, which mimics the process of farming in order to pray for good harvest. At Hirose Shrine's festival, sand is thrown and scattered instead of water, which is the reason this event is known as a bizarre festival.
The agricultural process of rice planting—from growing the seedling bed to the actual planting—is performed in the morning, and the awaited sand-throwing begins in the afternoon. Anybody is allowed to participate during the scattering, where some enact the roles of farmers and cattle.
After the "sand fight," Matsunae (pine needles representing rice seedling) and Tamochi (rice cake) are thrown and scattered. The Matsunae is said to bring good luck by keeping out evil spirits if you were to hang it in your doorway.
Please enjoy this 1,300 year-old bizarre festival of Yamato!
The "sand fight" is surely the highlight of this festival. Participants and those enacting farmers and cattle go wild throwing sand at each other. Everybody goes all-out with the throwing, that even the shrine's main worship hall gets a bit of the action, and nobody is left without being covered in sand when the fight is over. Wearing a rain coat is recommended for its participation. Be aware that your camera and cell phones may not function after the heavy battle!
At the Onda Matsuri festival, many ceremonial rituals take place after the reciting of celebrative prayers, such as the Denjo-no Gi and Teijo-no Gi ceremonies that enact "growing the seedling bed," "ceremonial procession around the seedling bed" and "rice planting." These rituals are held in order to pray for the healthy growing of rice, and for a good harvest. The festival is well-known for its "sand fight," yet don't miss out on the historic rituals too!
Please begins and end the sand battle according to the sound of the drum.
Due to the heavy sand-throwing, you will need protection such as goggles and rain coats. Please wrap your cameras and cell phones in order to protect them form sand.
Please be aware that there are no changing rooms.
Access to Kitakatsuragi District
Horyuji Station (JR Yamatoji Line)
Address: 99 Kawai, Kawai-cho Kitakatsuragi-gun, Nara Pref.
25 min walk from Horyuji Station, 5 min by taxi