By burning the good-luck charms you have used the past year in a holy flame and bathing in the heat, you can further avoid illness and disasters. By borrowing the power of the god of fire, you are able to send the power of those charms back up to the divine. Or so this ritual says.
Another element of this event is watching the Saotome (rice planting women) boil freshly picked spring herbs while singing in chorus. They also dish out servings of Nanakusa Gayu to the attendees.
The Atago mountain, on which the shrine resides, is recognized as the tallest natural mountain within the 23 Wards of Tokyo. The atmosphere of the shrine is a total contrast to that of the office buildings that surround it.
The Atago Shrine is said to have the power of warding off fire, other disasters, while attracting love and relationships.
The bon fire made in this ritual, held on the cold day of January 7th, sends the "soul" of the good luck charms such as ofuda, daruma, and hamaya back up to the heavens. The highlight of this burning ritual is the moment they heat up a treasure sword in the fire and use it to ward off the misfortune of participants in need. Warming up by this fire strengthens your prayers for a year without illness or disaster. If you have never prayed for your health in the beginning of the new year, give it a try.
Those who attend this festival are given a serving of the Nanakusa Gayu "Seven grass porridge" made on the shrine grounds. Nanakusa Gayu is a type of rice porridge containing seven different kinds of spring herbs (water dropwort, shepherd's purse, jersey cudweed, common chickweed, henbit, turnip and daikon) and is commonly eaten on January 7th. At the Atago Shrine, you can see their ritual where women sing in chorus while preparing this holy meal from the grasses they hand picked. See what bliss comes from warming up with Nanakusa Gayu after waiting under the bitter cold January sky.
The bon fire is not for burning trash.
You may not burn anything besides what you have previously received from this shrine.
Address: 1-5-3 Atago, Minato Ward, Tokyo
When coming by train
Take the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line to Kamiyacho Station (5min walk from exit 3).
Or, take the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line to Toranomon Station (8min walk).
Or, take the Toei Mita Line to Onarimon Station (8min walk).
Or, take JR to Shimbashi Station (20min walk)
When coming by bus
Take the Toei Bus 98 from Tokyo Station south exit, heading for Todoroki, get off at Atagoyamashita.
Or, take the Toei Bus 88 from Tokyo Station Yaesu exit heading for Shibuya, get off at Toranomon san chome.