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Introducing Kyoto's Hirogawara Matsuage Fire Festival!

‘Kyoto Festival: Fire Ritual in Hirogawara Kyoto (Matsuage)’ is a video made by Discover Kyoto and it show a festival in Kyoto called Matsuage at Hirogawara, Sakyo District.

There are many traditional fire festival events throughout Japan.
One of the most famous fire festivals in Kyoto is the Gozan Fire Festival, where people send off the spirits of the dead during the Bon Festival.

In Kyoto, there are other Matsuage festivals such as the Hanase Matsuage Fire Festival, Kuta Matsuage, and Kumogahatano Matsuage.
Today we present to you- Hirogawara Matsuage, held on August 24th every year.
You will enjoy the dancing fire in the sky and the spectacular display of a large tree falling with a loud crash.

What is Hirogawara Matsuage?

Image of the Torch Ceremony
Photo:Torch Ceremony

Hirogawara Matsuage was originally a fire ritual to commemorate the fire god Atago at Atago Shrine.
It is said to have originated from a special praying ritual for good harvest and fire prevention in addition to ‘the sending-off of the spirit of one's ancestors.
It is also called Matsuage Festival (Matsuage Matsuri), and the Matsuage Shinto Ceremony (Matsuage Shinji).

Hirogawara Matsuage is organized by around 40 men from the preservation society.
First, they light around 1,000 log torches standing in the ground. They then light the small bundles of wood attached to a rope, and proceed to hurl them up at the top of the 60 ft. tall Torogi Pine tree. The objective here is to light the torch at the top of this large tree.
The arcs of torchlight flames flying through the darkness is magical.
The dynamic display of the throwing of the burning torches is the highlight of this fire festival. You can see it from 0:38 in the video.

Once the torch has been lit, and the tree is engulfed in flames, it is pulled down using pre-attached ropes.
This is definitely one of the highlights of the video.
You can see the large, flaming tree crashing to the ground causing shockwaves to ripple through the ground (1:11).

The men then run into the flames, carrying large poles to stoke the flame even higher into the night sky.
This ritual is called Tsukkomi. It is shown from 1:36 in the video.

When and Where to See Hirogawara Matsuage

Hirogawara Matsuage is held in the evening of August 24th every year.
Please note that it takes about two hours to get to Demachiyanagi Station on the Eizan Electric Railway and Keihan Electric Railway by Kyoto Bus, and it is not possible to take a day trip from the festival site by bus.

You can book a hotel close to the venue or visit the event by car and use the parking lot nearby.
Kyoto Bus offers a sightseeing coach bus tour to for Hirogawara Matsuage. We recommend joining if you have the chance.

Summary of Hirogawara Matsuage

This video covers the dynamic Hirogawara Matsuage, a summer tradition in Kyoto, in just 2 and a half minutes.
We hope you enjoy it!

If you'd like to see Hirogawara Matsuage, a traditional Japanese fire festival, please visit the Rakuhoku District of Kyoto using a Kyoto Bus tour.

【Official Website】Rakuhoku area | Kyoto Travel-Navi

【Tripadviser】Kyoto Gozan Fire Festival

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
坂崎 なお(Nao Sakazaki)
Interested in Japanese culture and traditions! I'll be introducing lovely scenery to you!
Fire, Dancing Around a 60-Foot-Tall Tree in the Northern Area of Kyoto! Flaming Torches Thrown About! Check Out the Hirogawara Matsuage Traditional Fire Festival!
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