Sagicho (Chihara no Otondo)

Sagicho (Chihara no Otondo)

A sacred fire festival held at Kisshoso-ji Temple, involving a huge bonfire (tondo)

En no Ozunu, an ascetic of the Asuka period, was the founder of Shugendo, a uniquely Japanese set of spiritual practices based on mountain worship. There are legends identifying En no Gyoja (as he is also known) as the founder of many places sacred to Shugendo, such as Tenkawa Daibenzaiten-sha Shrine and Ominesan Ryusen-ji Temple, which he made places for spiritual training. The Otondo festival (also called Sagicho) held in his birthplace and involving a huge bonfire, is the largest in Nara Prefecture, and is designated by the prefecture as an Important Intangible Cultural Property. The event has a history of 1,300 years. A male and female pair of otondo bonfires are created, conveying hopes of bumper crops.

Sagicho: A fire festival held during Little New Year (Koshogatsu; the 14th, 15th and 16th days of the New Year). At this time, pine decorations, sacred rice straw ropes and calligraphy written during the New Year celebrations are brought to the shrine to be burned. People eat rice cakes baked over the flames of the fire and carry away ashes of the burned ropes and other items, then scatter the ashes around their homes to ward off illness during the coming year.


Event information

From Osaka: Take the JR Nara Line to Gose Station; Take a bus to Yagi and get off at Chihara
14 Jan 2023
©吉祥草寺(左義長 茅原のおおとんど):澤戢三(さわ しゅうぞう)


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