Today we’re going to talk about the Omihachiman no Hi-matsuri (Omihachiman Shrine Fire Festival). It is best known as one of the three most dangerous festivals held in Japan during mid-March. This is an annual festival where people dance excitedly amid showers of fire sparks along the burning floats. It is also called the Sagicho Festival in Japan.
A Sagicho refers to a huge float that is built with pine torches made of woven bamboo poles that are decorated with several thousand strips of red paper. A figure of the animal of the year, according to the lunar calendar, is mounted in the center of the float. Villagers might also use their creativity to decorate the center of the float with ingredients such as beans and noodles.
Around noon, Saguache floats will gather together at Himure Hachimangu Shrine and a poll is taken to determine the best one. Then, the floats parade through the town and people will carry mikoshi (potable shrines) along with them in the street. And the Sagicho floats parade would continue until the evening of the next day, where they assemble once again, at the shrine for the highlight for the festival.
Historically, it is believed that this festival was held for the first time in the 16th Century by newcomers to the district who had been astounded by a local festival featuring huge pine torches and decided to make it into an even more impressive festival.
Safety tips: Try not to stay too close to the fire during the parade!