Festivals & Events
Held every year for more than 1250 years, this dramatic, two week long Buddhist festival combines sacred water with purifying flames.
The festival takes place at Todaiji Temple in Nara Park, which can be reached on foot from JR Nara and Kintetsu Nara Station.
Kintetsu Nara Station is the closest station to Nara Park, just a short 5-minute walk from the exit. Alternatively, JR Nara Station is around a 20-minute walk from the park. Both stations are easily accessible from Kyoto and Osaka.
In accordance with local beliefs, the sacred water comes from Obama City in Fukui Prefecture. Before the water is transported, Obama City has a festival on March 2 to celebrate the water leaving for Nara.
According to legend the water used in Omizutori has divine properties, and it is said the water is able to cure any ailment. As a result, visitors are offered a chance to drink some of the water after it is offered to the Buddhist deities.
Because the water is so sacred, the people who draw the water take a vow of silence in the days leading up to the festival.
On the final day, the divine water is mixed with water from another pot that has been constantly added to at the festival for over 1200 years. This mixture of special waters is then preserved.
It is said that following the completion of the festival, spring has officially arrived and the cherry blossoms will start to bloom.
Every evening during the Omizutori festivl period, you can witness the fiery Otaimatsu Festival. Young ascetics run back and forth along the temple's balcony, carrying huge pine torches. The constant movement and whipping around causes sparks to scatter upon the crowd below, and it is said that people who get showered with these sparks will be granted protection from evil spirits.
Omizutori is actually the highlight of 14 days of praying. During this time, worshippers are expected to confess all of their sins to the Kanon statue and offer up prayers for world peace and a good harvest.