One of Japan’s most colorful historic festivals is the Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival, which takes place on the third weekend in March each year in Shiga prefecture. The origins of the festival are unclear, with some believing it was started in the 16th century by the warlord Oda Nobunaga and others saying it celebrated his death and the burning down of the castle.
Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival
Today, the neighborhoods that surround the old castle spend months building impressive floats featuring the year’s lunar calendar animals and a tall pine torch decorated with strips of red paper. Men dressed up as women carry the floats through the street and play “fight” with one another before burning the floats to the ground amidst much dancing in the firelight.
When: 16 - 17 March 2019