Todaiji Temple: Omizutori (東大寺お水取り)
Shunie is the name for a series of Buddhist repentance rituals that have been taking place at the Todaiji Temple in Nara prefecture for more than 1,250 years. The most famous and spectacular event is Omizutori, which begins just after sunset each night and sees giant torches being carried to the balcony of Nigatsudo Hall (a sub-complex of Todaiji Temple). Here their burning embers shower down and bestow onlookers with a safe year ahead.
On the night of March 12, the torches are larger and more numerous, attracting the biggest crowds. Between 1:30 and 2:30 am, priests descend repeatedly to draw water from the well at the base of the temple hall in a ritual known as Omizutori (“water drawing”). It’s believed that the well’s water only flows once a year and has restorative properties. This is followed by the Dattan ceremony that’s performed inside Nigatsudo Hall and features the ringing of bells, blowing of horns and swinging of burning torches.
When: March 1 - 14 2019