The Nozawa Fire Festival is one of the three greatest fire festivals in Japan and a must-see event which takes place at Baba-no-hara, Nozawa Onsen Village on the 15th of January every year.
After a faux battle amongst the villagers, a large shrine made of wood is set alight and the onlookers watch it burn.
- The event begins at 7 p.m. when the fire used to burn the shrine is created during a special ceremony.
- Lanterns are lit at 7:30 p.m.
- The procession starts from 8 p.m. with fireworks, singing, and drumming.
- At 8.30 p.m., the battle begins. Representatives aged 25 and 42 will try and protect the shrine from being burnt.
- The battle will be lost (or won, depending on how you see it) and the shrine will be completely set alight at around 10 p.m.
- Onlookers stay to watch the shrine burn to ash (until around 11 p.m.)
How to get there?
If coming by train, the village is a 10 minute taxi ride from Togari Nozawa Onsen Station (JR Iiyama Line) or a 30-minute bus journey (¥600) from Iiyama Station on the Hokuriku Shinkansen.
Sake is handed out and locals revel in the celebrations late into the night, so staying local is key if you want to join in! Accommodation in the area fills up fast, so be sure to book early if you want to attend (Chouchinya and Lodge Matsuya are some decently priced and centrally located options). Or consider staying somewhere nearby like Myoko and getting a shuttle to the event.