When you arrive in Kurama on the night of the fire festival, the streets of the picturesque little town are lined with small watch fires in metal braziers, tended by local people. Three meter tall bonfires blaze merrily in an area with a big stone torii. Torch bearers walk up and down the streets announcing the festival. There are over 250 pine torches of various sizes, from small ones carried by children to huge ones weighing over 80 kilograms. At 8:00 pm all the torch bearers converge on Kurama's Yuki Jinja. The torches roaring and sparking against the night sky create a truly thrilling spectacle! Kurama Fire Festival takes place on October 22nd.
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I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for nine years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014. I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.