Photo By: st12_10
Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kofu
Population
888,170

Yoshida Fire Festival

Fireworks at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

  • This event happens annually on Aug. 26-27.
When summer starts winding down, get ready for heat and fire at one of the more unique festivals in Japan. Every year on Aug. 26 and 27, the city of Fujiyoshida in Yamanashi Prefecture celebrates the end of the Fuji climbing season with a bang. Yoshida Fire Festival takes place at Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine located at the foot of mighty Mount Fuji. The festival is known in Japan for being one of the “three most unique festivals.”

What makes a fire festival?

Photo by: st12_10 Fire festival in full flame.

After visiting Yoshida Fire Festival, you’ll see why it is so distinct from other fire festivals in Japan. During the event, more than 70 three-meter-high torches line a two-kilometer stretch along the city’s main street. When dusk falls over the city, locals ignite the giant torches simultaneously and the street blazes like an orange river instantly.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Smith The small fires are in the actual shrine area.

Although sparks do flicker off the torches, there’s never been any fire-related accidents. Locals say this is because the festival is protected by the goddess of fire safety that is worshipped at the shrine. Legend states that she even gave birth in the middle of a fire to prove she was faithful to her husband. The festival also includes the carrying of the heavy Oyama mikoshi (portable shrine) shaped like Mount Fuji.

Photo by: Kaitlyn Smith The torches lead up to the shrine.

This is one of the few times you can see a mikoshi thrown on the ground in Japan. As the mikoshi is thrown down, it makes a loud crash, similar to the rumblings of an active volcano. This is done to pacify the mountain gods. The mikoshi are paraded and torches are lit on the first night (Yoshida fire festival) and mikoshi are also paraded on the second day which is called the Susuki Festival (named after the silver grass used in the rituals).

The festival’s history

Photo by: john_tran88 The festival is held at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Long ago, the shrine marked the start of the Yoshida mountain trail. However, today, this starting point is hardly used; many choose to ascend the mountain from the 5th stations to cut climbing time.

Yoshida Fire Festival dates back some 400 years. Although the festival’s origin is a bit fuzzy, locals generally agree that it’s performed to calm the mountain gods. It was believed that whenever the gods were angry, Mount Fuji erupted. The festival also thanks the gods for a safe climbing season and ceremoniously closes the season.

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Things To Know

Date and fees

Yearly date: Aug. 26 – 27 and the fires are lit around dusk. Cost is free. On the first day, the fire festival starts at 3 p.m., so it’s best to arrive around that time. On the second day, the Susuki Festival starts at 1:30 p.m. The two-day event is pretty jam-packed so plan accordingly.

Official site

See the official website for more details: http://www.mfi.or.jp/himatsuri/ (Japanese)

How To Get There

Address

5558 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi-ken 403-0005, Japan

By train

Take the Chuo Line express train from Shinjuku station to Otsuki station (1 hour). Change there for the Fuji-Kyuko line heading to Fujisan station (50 minutes). Take the bus from Fujisan station to the shrine (10-15 minutes).

By bus

Alternatively, you can take a highway bus from Tokyo station to Fujisaneki (Fujisan station) Bus Stop, and then walk 25 mins to the shrine.

Where To Stay

Daikokuya Mt.Fuji
  • Kamiyoshida 5-10-25 Fujiyoshida-Shi, Yamanashi 403-0005
  • 8.8/10
  • 0.8 km
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Forest Cottage kiki
  • Kamiyoshida 4713-14 Fujiyoshida-Shi, Yamanashi 403-0005
  • 9.5/10
  • 1.0 km
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Resort Inn Fuyo Kawaguchiko Inter
  • Kamiyoshida 4261 Fujiyoshida-Shi, Yamanashi 403-0005
  • 8.1/10
  • 1.2 km
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Hotel Route-Inn Court Fujiyoshida
  • 5-10-12 Higashi Kamiyoshida 403-0032
  • 7.2/10
  • 1.2 km
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