Hifuri Shinji at Aso Shrine

A fiery ritual at the base of volcanic Mt Aso

 By Mandy Bartok   Mar 20, 2013

Once a year, locals and visitors alike gather after dusk on the grounds of Aso Shrine in rural Kumamoto for the Hifuri Shinji, or Fire Swinging Ritual. Bales of straw are set ablaze and swung round in circles on the main pathway in front of the shrine in an appeal to the shrine deity for a bountiful harvest in the coming season. Once the prayers have been fulfilled, the audience is welcomed onto the grounds to swing their own fiery bundles. A fascinating, beautiful and slightly dangerous festival, all rolled into one!

Photography by Mandy Bartok
Japan Travel Partner

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Olga Kaneda 3 years ago
My friend also does fire shows. It's really fascinating!
Mandy Bartok Photographer 3 years ago
Sounds awesome, Olga! I really hope to be able to catch the one at the Aso Shrine again this year. It really is rather mesmerizing.
Nicole Bauer 5 years ago
Great, thanks Mandy. I'll put this down for next year then :-))
Mandy Bartok Photographer 5 years ago
Nicole, it's usually in mid-March. Last year it was March 24th, this year it was the 19th. Something about it having to fall on a certain day of the "old" calendar. (You know, day of the cow, week of the ox, month of the salamander and all that. :P)
Justin Dart 5 years ago
WOW! I've seen North American Ojibwe fire dancing but this looks even more exciting.
Nicole Bauer 5 years ago
Thanks Mandy. So it generally takes place in spring? I just would like to know during which part of the year I need to watch out for it :-)