In a spectacular "Devil's Night" with gigantic torches, the Japanese drove away evil spirits at one of the country's largest fire festivals. On a cold winter night, surrounded by densely packed naked men in white loincloths, the flames of the 13 meter long and 1.2 ton bamboo torches blazed up high and showers of sparks flew into the dark night.
The "Oniya" (Devil's Night) festival dates back to a 1,600-year-old ceremony and has now been celebrated again for the first time after a two-year break due to the pandemic at the Shinto shrine Daizenji Tamataregu in Kurume in the southwestern prefecture of Fukuoka, as a spokesman for the German press on Sunday agency announced.
The "Oniya" festival is one of the three most important fire festivals in Japan and represents an important intangible cultural heritage of the Far East archipelago. From New Year's Eve to January 7, Shinto priests pray for peace, bountiful harvests, safety at home and the elimination of disasters , by guarding the sacred fire (Onibi). At the climax of the festival, the massive torches, one meter in diameter, are carried across the grounds of Daizenji Tamataregu Shrine and placed on poles. It is said that "bathing" in the sparks from the torches promises good health.