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Mitsugonji Fire Festival

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Mitsugonji Fire Festival


The fascinating spectacle of Buddhist fire rituals in Shikoku

Nishi-Awa Tourism Association Sora-no-sato



Mitsugonji Temple, located in western Tokushima Prefecture, was built by the renowned Buddhist priest Kobo Daishi in 816 and is the fifth of the 36 temples of Shikoku’s Fudo Pilgrimage.

The Buddhist fire rituals that take place during the Fire Festival, held at Mitsugonji on the third Sunday of May each year, are a fascinating sight. During the main ritual, a huge wooden frame is draped in cedar branches and set aflame, creating massive plumes of smoke as the flames devour the leaves and blacken the wood. As the smoke subsides, monks chant and toss wooden planks containing the attendees’ written prayers and wishes into the flames. The fire is believed to purify negative energy and help prayers come to fruition.

There are many unusual elements in the ceremony, such as shooting an arrow near the audience that is said to bring luck to whoever picks it up. After the fire dies down, the monks gather the ashes and pound them down into a pathway of embers that people can walk across, holding paper charms and praying as they walk.

The temple precincts are famed as a spiritual spot with cherry trees whose petals are said to “remain forever” after blooming in mid to late March, and stones marked with hoofprints believed to have been left by celestial horses descending from heaven. From mid to late April, some 700 peonies of 100 different varieties decorate the grounds.


How to get there


From Shin-Osaka Station, take the JR Sanyo Shinkansen to Okayama Station (about 50 minutes). From there, take the JR Limited Express to Awa-Ikeda Station (about 1 hour). Mitsugonji Temple is about 20 minutes by taxi or car from Awa-Ikeda Station.


3798 Sako, Nishiyama, Ikeda-cho, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima-ken


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