Flames and Young Men Dance in SnowTwo Shrines' "Hi-Matsuri" Festivals in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture
On the evening of January 14, "Hi-Matsuri, " unique fire festivals to pray for good health where young men dance wildly in front of huge, blazing torches that can be likened to a giant serpent, took place at Katsube Shrine, 1-chome, Katsube, and at Sumiyoshi Shrine, Fuke-cho, both in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture. Blazing flames and their crackling sounds filled the night sky as snow fell.
The fire festivals derive from folklore that says a serpent was burned in order to cure Emperor Tsuchimikado's disease in the Kamakura Period. It is said that the torches in Katsube and Sumiyoshi Shrines represent the serpent's body and head respectively. Both of them are designated as Intangible Folk Cultural Properties of Shiga Prefecture.
At 8:55 p.m., 12 torches, measuring roughly five-meters in height, and lined up in the precincts of Katsube Shrine, were lit up all at once. Approximately 80 young men aged 13 to 34 wearing Shimekomi loincloths formed a circle and danced wildly to pray for good health, shouting "Go-yo, Hyo-yo," or may the Emperor recover completely! Visitors and local residents gazed intently at the spectacle.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)