The Hifuri "fire throwing" Matsuri, held on August 14th and 15th during the O-bon holiday, is a colorful summer classic. It is a so-called "strange" festival held at the Kuchinomiya Shrine, commonly called "Hibarino", in Kozukeda, Hino.
After the sun goes down, a procession of men centered around three "Chigo", or chosen young boys from the Hino Matsuri (the region's largest festival, held in May) walk from the Gosha Shrine carrying torches to Hibarino. After arriving at Hibarino, over 100 torches are thrown up into a massive pine tree at the sound of the taiko drum. It is said that if a lot of torches get stuck in the tree, there will be a rich harvest that year. Watch in awe as a flood of torches fly, leaving arches in the night sky for this thrilling fire festival. Though the origins of the festival are unknown as records were lost in a tragic fire at Gosha Shrine, it has been carried on to this day as a way of paying respect to ancestors and praying for a rich harvest.
From 19:30 on the 14th and 20:00 on the 15th, the ritual begins. Many locals gather at Hibarino holding torches and wait for the signal of the drum to launch them up into the branches of a massive pine tree. It is truly a wonderful sight to witness the 100 and some torches fill the night sky. People erupt in cheer each time a torch catches hold of a branch. It is a festival unique to this region that brings men and women of all ages together.
Picture provided by Hino Town Tourist Association
Please watch with caution when the torches are thrown. Do not stand near the bottom of the pine tree as the lit torches fall there.
Access to Hino cho, Gamo gun
Hino Station, Ohmi Line
Hibarino (Kuchinomiya Shrine)
Address: Kozukeda, Hino cho, Gamo gun, Shiga Prefecture
Take the "Ohmi Tetsudo Bus Hino to Hachiman" bus, get off at Hino Koko Mae. It is moments walk.