Every September in the City of Kazo there is a fire walking ceremony. It is called Shūki taisai saitō goma hiwatari-shiki in Japanese; 柴燈護摩火渡り式. “Hiwatari” literally means fire crossing and that’s exactly what you do at this ceremony. The ceremony is steeped in ritual and history and has been practised at Sougan-ji Temple in Kazo city for about 200 years. Souganji is one of the three major Fudo temples in the Kanto region.
First the priests walk through the flames of the sacred fire. After the priests have finished they completely extinguish the fire creating smoldering coals. They are still warm, but not hot enough to burn. People walk bare foot on the coals as a type of a purification ritual and a prayer for protection. The festival is held annually on September 28th, regardless of what day of the week it is, from 1 pm.
Event: Saito Goma Fire Walking Ceremony 秋季大祭 柴燈護摩火渡式
Date: September 28th annually
Time: from 1 pm
Cost: from 1000 yen to participate in the ceremony and ritual
Venue: Sougan-ji Temple, 2 Chome-9-18 Fudooka, Kazo, Saitama Prefecture.
The temple is about a 25 minute walk from the North exit of Kazo Station which is on the Tobu Isesaki line. You can also take a bus from the North exit of the station toward Kazo garage.
Please do check with the official website for the most up to date information (click here). Moreover, you can see dozens of photos from the ritual on the official website.
The information was up to date and accurate to the best of knowledge at the time of publishing. Please check the official website for any last minute changes due to weather or other circumstances.