Daisen Natsuyama Festival

 In Japan’s Tottori Prefecture, Mount Daisen is the most popular hiking destination.

oni maskEvery June, at the start of the rainy season, the mountain hosts the Natsuyama Festival. During the two-day festival, Shinto priests from Daisen’s ancient Ogamiyama Shrine pray for a safe hiking season. In fact, Ogamiyama Shrine marks the start of one of the trails up the sacred mountain.

There is usually a torch procession on the first night of the festival. Festival goers trek along a cobblestoned path, pass under the stone torii, and climb the steep stone staircase which led to the shrine. 

fire festivalWhen they get there, they can purchase bamboo torches. After the torches are lit, the march begins.  Only the flames glow against the soft shadows, pine trees, and gauzy twilight sky. The acrid scent of kerosene from the torches overpowers the natural pine of the forest.

The procession resembles a river of fire coursing down the mighty mountain. From a bird’s eye view, the procession appears somber. However upon close inspection, many torchbearers enjoy taking selfies with their primitive fire sticks. 

daisen fire

If you don’t really like fire, please don’t walk in the middle of the procession. The heat and smoke can be intense. Stick to the cooler edges.  At the end of the march, the participants dump their torches into a giant bonfire near the carpark. Taiko drums beat thick under the starry sky. 

Photos: © Live Lyfe Photography

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13 thoughts on “Daisen Natsuyama Festival

  1. The Daisen Natsuyama festival in Japan looks very unique. I’m not sure I’d like to be in the centre of the parade with all the fire, I’d be at the edge. With the masks and the fire you can make some wonderful people and festival photography.

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  2. Japan seems to have a lot of festivals celebrating the most unusual things! Praying for a good hiking season, lol, now I’ve heard it all! I’d still be interested in visiting Mount Daisen, thanks for sharing.

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  3. I find it intetresting reading about the tradition, culture and beliefs of other people. Daisen Nstsuyama Festival is one part of people’s culture that intrigues me. I’d love to in the procession to feel the intense heat of the burning fire so long I won’t die. It’s an adventure on its own.

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  4. This sounds like such a unique festival. I would love to walk with the torch bearers and document the entire festival someday in future. I am hell scared of fire and heat though. But I will find a way to come back alive. 🙂

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  5. Looks like some kind of cult festival going on haha nonetheless it looks like so much fun!! I wasn’t aware that bamboo burns like that! Amazing.

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  6. Japan is my favourite country because of its culture and traditions. I had never attended the Daisen Natsuyama festival in Japan but it looks very unique. I would love to attend it. Thanks for bringing it to my consideration.

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