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Hiwatari “Firewalking” Festival

01 featured hiwatari matsuri tokyo mount takao japan festival

Every second Sunday of March, the Hiwatari Matsuri is held a Mount Takao practiced by the Shugendo religion. Hiwatari (火渡り) literally means fire crossing. The ritual is performed by the Yamabushi monks as an act of purification. They begin the ceremony by starting the sacred fire and then lead in walking through the burning embers.  After the monks have crossed and the ashes have cooled down, travelers are free to walk through the path and receive blessings for good health and protection from misfortunes. Hundreds take part in this event and takes about an hour queue. I didn’t mind the long lines to be able to participate in this sacred rite.

After the festival, I went around the town at the base of Mount Takao and had my late lunch there. It was really quiet and has some nice views. Soba restaurants are everywhere, so I tried their local specialty Tororo Soba with quail eggs (noodles with grated yam).  I noticed that you can also hike and take the cable car to go up Mount Takao but I’ll reserve it another trip since it was getting late.

NOTES: The Hiwatari Festival is held just a short walk from Takaosanguchi Station of the Keio Takao Line. The festival takes place from 1pm to 4pm but make sure to come earlier to get a good spot as it gets really crowded and may be hard to view the ceremony.

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