Wishing for Peace and a New Year… 2016 Mabuni Fire and Bell Festival, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture

Date: December 31, 10:00 PM to 1:00 AM the next day

Location: 448-2 Mabuni, Itoman City, Okinawa Prefecture, within the Peace Memorial Park

Access:

  • Train/Public Transportation:
    • Yui Rail from “Asahibashi Station” to “Naha Bus Terminal,” transfer to a bus to “Itoman Bus Terminal,” and get off at “Heiwa Kinen-do Iriguchi”
  • Car:
    • Approximately 45 minutes by car from Naha Airport

http://www.city.itoman.lg.jp/kankou-navi/docs-kankou/2013020106902/ (Official Itoman City Website – Mabuni Fire and Bell Festival)

This festival is a unique event among those featured on our site.

A “festival” traditionally involves an act of worship. Many festivals in Japan involve gathering people who dance and shout joyfully through the night to please the deities or as an exciting event alongside a religious ceremony.

However, this festival is a sacred and solemn event that eschews such merriment.

The “Mabuni Fire and Bell Festival” is held annually from December 31 to January 1 at the Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall in Mabuni, Itoman City, where the “Cornerstone of Peace” is located. Mabuni is known as the site of the end of the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

Okinawa was the only place in Japan where a ground battle occurred during the final stages of the Pacific War, resulting in the deaths of 150,000 people. Mabuni was the location of the last fierce battle.

The festival’s most significant highlight is when many people gather at Mabuni, where the Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall is located, and hold up torches in memory of the war dead, offering prayers for peace.

The “Sacred Flame of Prayer” is lit and passed on to each participant’s torch. The sight is profoundly moving, evoking a deep sorrow for the war while also being very mystical. The “Bell of Peace,” which rings out for eternal peace, heralds the arrival of the new year and calls for peace in the future.

Celebrating the New Year with friends, counting down in the city, and making the first shrine visit of the year are very enjoyable activities. However, at least once in your life, I strongly recommend attending this event to appreciate the peace in modern Japan and contribute to a peaceful future world.

Featured image: Quoted from http://www.city.itoman.lg.jp/kankou-navi/docs-kankou/2013020106902/

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