The Shingu Fire Festival
‘Tanomude! Tanomude! Tanomude!’ This is the thing that you will hear as the sun goes down in Shingu City consistently on February sixth.
As the winter haziness falls over the city, the sweet fragrance of ‘amazake’ (sweet white purpose) fills the cold air and the lanes gradually load up with more than 2000 men and young men of any age getting their spirits up before participating in the Oto Matsuri (Fire Festival).
This multi year old celebration is pervaded with primordial energies and is the place young men come to progress toward becoming men and where men become young men and the spirit is sanitized by the flames of 2000 flaring lights.
Numerous men will compose their desires on these wooden lights with wooden streamers that will before long be illuminating the obscurity under Gotobiki Iwa subsequent to scaling up a lofty stone pathway most of the way up Chihogamine Mountain or what is likewise called Mt. Gongen.
Like the sound of an antiquated infantry moving toward the sound of ‘Tanomude! Tanomude! Tanomude!’ gets more intense and more intense as an ever increasing number of energized men and young men fill the avenues and more amazake is expended.
Wandering here and there pretty much every road on their approach to do Sanshamairi (paying appreciation to Asuka Jinja, Hayatama Taisha, and Myoshinji) gatherings of men and young men pass one another and strike each other’s lights, frequently a little fiercely and brutally, with a boisterous pound yelling ‘Tanomude! Tanomude!’
I need to concede that my first experience of this celebration was a touch of threatening being one of only a handful few ‘hakujin’ (white men) in the city.
The idea crossed my mind that my ‘gaijin’ head may stand out pleasantly as an objective for an excessively energized Noboriko or two. In fact, for the distracted, ‘gaijin’ outsiders or Japanese alike, who accidentally discover their heads in the middle of two or three swinging lights, a little blood may stream before coming to Kamikura.
Most ‘Noboriko’ are quiet yet in such a testosterone filled celebration there are a couple young men and men who drink excessively much amazake and get somewhat messy with their point when striking together their dark lights. Along these lines, in the event that you participate in simply watch out for swinging lights and you will be fine.
The air is electric and accused of powerful male vitality and the fervor manufactures the closer we get to the Kamikura Shrine. When we complete the process of twisting through the avenues we advance toward lower Torii (hallowed place entryway) and begin our rising up the lofty stone strides to accumulate with the other Noboriko. After around 45 minutes each of the 2000 of us are corralled into a little region behind the place of worship door hanging tight for it to be tossed open.
The inclination is very elating to be restricted with 2000 other ‘all around greased up’ men with blazes, fiery debris, and smoke consuming your eyes. I am certain for some the experience can be a touch of startling and threatening.
From a little flash of rock to a little fire in the long run 2000 lights are progressively lit. At the point when the door flies open there is a distraught surge down the precarious strides to the base where ambulances and police are waiting…just in the event that!
Fortunately, in this generally hazardous celebration, you can essentially pick your dimension of energy and risk. In the event that you need a calm time you can pull in that vitality to you. In the event that you need to be in the thick of the ‘male vitality’ you can pick that as well and drinking somewhat more amazake can help you along in such manner.
A great many people participate with another gathering of men while partaking and the dimension of male vitality you experience may rely upon the gathering you participate with.
The first occasion when I participated in the celebration it was with a gathering of Aikido professionals, for example ‘military specialists’. These were youthful tough men doing hand to hand fighting two times per day and who for the most part like being at the focal point of all the energy. That experience was very energizing as we were altogether accumulated the near the front entryway where even more aggressive and fiery young fellows will in general assemble. The lights were flying, battles were breaking out, and the blood was streaming from a couple of temples, all piece of the experience. Fortunately I got away with no harm and appreciated being in the front of the pack as the ‘Kaishaku’ holding the doors shut let them fly open and we started running down the mountain dangerously fast.
I should underscore that these multi year old stone advances are steep to the point that developed men discover them frightening to WALK down. Here you have 2000 men the vast majority of whom are half tanked, or totally alcoholic, RUNNING hotly down this mountain – henceforth, the rescue vehicle and police nearness.
Some other time I joined the celebration the gathering was somewhat more loose. That time we gradually advanced toward the back and roosted ourselves high on a stone sitting above the disorder. That is the place kids, babies, more established men, and those simply wishing an increasingly loosened up experience float.
On this day all the ‘Noboriko’ spruce up in ‘Shiroshozoku’, a customary white uniform with an enormous straw rope folded over their midriff, and a white head spread to keep the coming shoot their heads. Child young men are wrapped up on the backs of the men for their first adventure up the mountain.
In Japan the dead are customarily wearing white attire and white is commonly viewed as a shade of virtue and neatness. Another name for this is ‘Shinishozoku’ or ‘passing material’.
I was informed that the Noboriko spruce up in this ‘demise material’ in light of the fact that the Oto Matsuri (Fire Festival) is representative of a sort of death of the old and resurrection of the new.
Every year Noboriko climb the stone advances and leave ‘konoyo’ or ‘this world’ at the base of the mountain and go into ‘Anoyo’ or ‘the other world’ at Kamikura Shrine in favor of Mt. Gongen and rise out of the flares on the mountain symbolizing ‘yomigaeri’ which can be interpreted as ‘recovery’ or ‘revival’.
Just white sustenance like tofu, white pickles, rice, can be eaten, just white beverages like amazake can be devoured, and the men must keep away from sexual movement in any event amid the day of the celebration. I was told this restraint was of longer span in old occasions however nowadays somewhere around one day is the base.
I began to complete an Om serenade on one of my increasingly loosened up Oto Matsuri encounters. Following a couple of minutes my companions began to participate and it felt like we were making a sound wave that streamed over the entire gathering of 2000. It might have been my creative ability, however it appeared as if the group was getting to be calmer and a sort of holy harmony was settling in over the place of worship areas particularly in the back territory where we were sitting.
Amid this celebration I felt a feeling of unity with my individual Noboriko without any limits of culture or nationality and no separation. I likewise felt at one with the mountain and sacrosanct normal divinity that lives on Mr. Gongen and Kamikura.
When you take an interest in this celebration I trust you have one of only a handful couple of chances to truly feel what it resembles to be Japanese and to go into the soul of ‘Genuine Japan’.
I need to state this was a standout amongst the most significant encounters of the most recent 24 years of living in Japan and very suggest it whether you are youthful or old, solid or frail, Japanese or non-Japanese.