Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival - Hakuba
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Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival

Annual Event

The Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival is held annually on January 15th and is among the most unique winter festival across the world. Hakuba.com offers Transportation (¥9,000) and Transportation + Dinner options (¥13,000) for the festival from Hakuba. The trip takes 1.5 hours each way and is a great cultural experience to pair with your on-mountain activities. Please enquire below if interested.

Nozawa Fire Festival 2019

Nozawa Onsen hosted the annual Fire Festival last night as thousands of people gathered to enjoy one of the most unique spectacles in all the world! The famous festival celebrates community, honors the gods, and entreats them to provide mothers and their newborns with health and happiness and to supply the village with heaps of snow and a bountiful harvest in 2019. In order to honor the gods, the villagers build a 3 story wooden structure, and the 25 year men in the village are tasked with defending it, while the 45 year old torch wielding men work to burn it down.

The Festival began with very drunk 45 year old villagers carrying large wooden poles which would later be used to control a massive bonfire. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur

 

The men then lit a massive bundle of bamboo and swung it violently around coming uncomfortably close to us in the audience. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur.
The festival officially began at 8PM with a beautiful fireworks display. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur

The main spectacle involved over a small group of 25 year old villagers guarding the base of the three story structure, and another group of very inebriated 25 year old men sitting atop the structure drinking and cheering on their teammates. Directly across from the structure, the villagers lit a massive bonfire which was flanked on both sides by excited visitors. The villagers lit their bamboo bundles on fire and walked in groups as large as 10 to the structure to do battle with the guards. The men at the base formed human shields and used tree branches to extinguish the flames. The entire battle lasted over 2 hours and became very intense and violent at times with men shoving, jumping, slapping, and hitting each other with lit bundles of bamboo.

The Boys sit atop the shrine, cheering, drinking, and waiting for the structure to inevitably burn. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur
In the end, the shrine allows succumbs the flames providing the visitors with the entertainment they traveled so far to see. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur
Beautiful chaos and destruction. From the flames the villagers honor the gods and pray for a bountiful 2019. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur
A breathtaking inferno, the largest we’ve ever seen in our lives. Photo by Jack Smith Arthur

The Nozawa Onses is an amazing cultural experience and something that you should plan your next trip to Hakuba around. It occurs every year in mid January and will be among the highlights of your Hakuba Holiday.

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