December 31th 2014
A New Year's Eve tradition on the peaceful island of Miyajima, the Itsukushima Shrine Fire Festival ("chinkasai") is a fire prevention festival that has its roots in the olden times, when closely-built houses were made of wood and the danger of fire was commonplace. While house fires have become rare, this traditional festival is still conducted on the last day of the year to ward off fire in the year ahead.
At dusk, families gather at the shore near the great torii gate. A fire torch is carried from the shrine and usedto light smaller torches that have been made by the community during the month of December. Larger pine torches are carried by up to 30 – 40 men as the torches make their way toward the ocean. After the festival,the embers from the torches are offered to families as a good luck charm to prevent fire and welcome the new year. Later in the evening, the streets of Miyajima are filled with thousands of people headed to the shrine for a New Year’s blessing. Plenty of stalls along the back streets sell food, drinks and souvenirs toshrine visitors.
Hours: 6:00 p.m.
Address: Mikasahama, Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima
Airport: Hiroshima Airport
Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima, Hiroshima Prefecture
10-minute ferry ride from Miyajima-Guchi train station to Miyajima Island