Festivals & Events
Oto Matsuri Fire Festival お燈祭り
A river of fire blazes in the cold night during this spectacular festival at a World Heritage Site
The Oto Matsuri is an ancient festival steeped in history. For 1,400 years, the steep stone staircase leading up to the spiritual sanctuary of Kamikura Shrine , a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been the stage for this spectacular event each February.
- Roughly 2,000 men dressed in white racing down 538 steps with flaming torches lit from a sacred fire
- The folk song describing the scene
How to Get There
Kamikura Shrine is accessible by train and a short walk.
The area around Kamikura Shrine is located 15 minutes on foot from JR Shingu Station.
Elements in the festival
On February 6, as the winter winds bite, blazing torches appear to ignite the staircase into a cascading river of fire when roughly 2,000 men dressed in white race down the steps with flaming torches lit from a sacred fire. A local folk song describes the scene as resembling a descending dragon.
Meaning of the festival
The Oto Matsuri is a purification ritual with prayers made for a good harvest. Little has changed since the festival began, including the rule that women are barred from the mountain on the day.