Sparks Dance on a Drizzly Night"Hanase no Matsuage" Ritual in Kyoto
Flames flared in the dark night as the "Hanase no Matsuage" ritual was held in Hanase Yamasu-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, on the evening of August 15. Spectators were fascinated as burning parabolas swirled through the drizzling rain when men threw flaming torches that showered sparks.
This is a traditional local ritual to pray for an abundant harvest and the prevention of fires. A roughly 20-meter high log and approximately 1000 torches were set up along the river terrace before night fell.
Just before 9:00 p.m., local men wearing Happi coats and Hachimaki headbands showed up and lit small torches held in their hands. They vigorously twirled the torches and flung them toward the top of the log, towering in the center.
At the site, fierce shouts and the sounds of hand-held brass gongs and a drums echoed. When the log caught fire, the gathered spectators excitedly cheered and applauded.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)