The Nagatoro Fire Festival is the largest fire festival in the Kanto Plain / Greater Tokyo area. However, in 2023 it will be held on a reduced scale.
Nagatoro Fire Festival
A truly awesome and invigorating festival, the fire festival is one of those only-in-Japan occasions that are a must see for the long term expat in Japan. It is a religious rite which heralds the coming of spring. In addition, it will also be of interest to passing tourists, who can appreciate the grandeur of the fire ritual without understanding Japanese.
They hold the festival annually on the first Sunday in March, near the Mt Hodo base ropeway station at the foot of Mt Hodo. Approximately 1,000 participants march to the Nagatoro Fudo Temple that is near the ropeway station. At the temple Buddhist priests walk through the fires of a holy fire called a goma. They say that by crossing the holy fire you burn away all misfortunes and obstacles.
The ritual is called “hiwatari” and this is a rare opportunity to see it up close. Hiwatari literally means crossing the fire. This festival is one of the main ways they welcome spring in Nagatoro. Furthermore, they perform the ritual as a prayer for protection against misfortune.
In celebration of this special event, each year, Chichibu Railway trains have a Nagatoro Fire Festival headmark. In 2023, you can see the Fire Festival headmark from Saturday February 25th to Sunday March 5th.
The festival has been confirmed for 2023. However, it will be on a much smaller scale than normal. Furthermore, like every event, it is subject to change and, as always, I would ask that you check with the official website for any last minute changes before walking out the door.
Event: Nagatoro Fire Festival 長瀞火祭り
Date: March 5th 2023
10 am 1 pm* to approximately 3 pm. *In 2023, the festival will be on for a shorter period than usual, due to concerns over the coronavirus.
Cost: free to spectate
Venue: the temple’s parking lot, which is located below the base station of Hodosan Ropeway. View on Google maps.
The temple is about a 20 minute walk from Nagatoro station. But the parking lot where the ritual is performed is only about a 15 walk from the station. At the station they normally also have traditional shishimai performances for the occasion. (However, not yet confirmed for 2023)
There is normally parking beside the Hodosan ropeway base station, but due to the festival it will be limited. There are also some charged parking lots around Nagatoro Station.
Nagatoro Tourist Association website where they will post any cancellations or major changes to the festival.
Editors note: the Nagatoro Fire Festival was temporarily removed from the website during the pandemic. Republished February 3rd 2023.