Announcing Spring in Nara: 2019 Tōdai-ji Shuni-e (Omizutori) Festival, Nara City, Nara Prefecture

Overview of Nara City


Nara City is a core city located in the northern part of Nara Prefecture and serves as the prefecture’s capital. It was once the ancient capital of Heijō-kyō and flourished as the terminus of the Silk Road, where Tenpyō culture thrived.

Nara City is renowned for its numerous historical cultural assets and World Heritage sites. In addition to famous buildings like Tōdai-ji Temple, Shōsō-in Repository, and Hōryū-ji Temple, it is also blessed with rich natural beauty. The Yagyū district is known as the home of legendary swordsmen, and Tsukigase Gorge is famed as a scenic spot.

Nara City is a place where World Heritage sites coexist with nature. Many people may recall visiting Nara during school trips.

Quoted from Itsu-mo NAVI

Let’s Go to the Omizutori Festival!


Location: Tōdai-ji Nigatsu-dō Hall

Date: March 12 every year

Access:

  • About 20 minutes on foot from JR Nara Station, or get off at the bus stop “Daibutsuden Kasuga Taisha Mae” and walk 5 minutes
  • About 7 km south from Kizugawa IC on the Keinawa Expressway
  • About 10 km north from Tenri IC on the Nishi-Meihan Expressway via Route 169

http://www.todaiji.or.jp/contents/function/02-03syunie3.html (Official Tōdai-ji Website)


The Omizutori, or Shuni-e, is an event held at Tōdai-ji’s Nigatsu-dō Hall. Shuni-e is celebrated from February 20 to March 15, with February designated for preparations and March for the main event. The Omizutori takes place on the night of March 12. It is a cherished ritual that announces the arrival of spring in Nara Prefecture.

Omizutori involves drawing sacred water, known as “kōzui,” to offer to Kannon, the deity of mercy. The sacred water is drawn from a well called Wakasa-i, which is located inside a building. Only designated officials are allowed to enter or view this well. The kōzui is then distributed to visitors as “Shidai Kōzui.”

 

What is the History of Omizutori?


The Shuni-e ceremony at Tōdai-ji was initiated by Jitchū, a prominent disciple of Rōben Sōjō, who founded Tōdai-ji in Tenpyō-shōhō 4 (752). Since then, the ceremony has been conducted continuously without interruption up to the present day.

The formal name for Shuni-e is “Jūichimen Keka,” which means repenting for various sins committed in daily life before the Eleven-Faced Kannon Bodhisattva enshrined in the main hall of Nigatsu-dō.

 

 

Don’t Miss the Giant Torches!!


During the event on the night of March 12, a ritual known as “Omizutori” is performed, in which sacred water called “kōzui” is drawn from a well called Wakasa-i to offer to Kannon. Additionally, as a path light for the renyōshū (practitioners), the “Otaimatsu” ceremony is held every evening at 7:00 PM, where a person called a dōji carries a giant torch, approximately 7 meters long, to light the way for the practitioners as they enter the Nigatsu-dō hall.

The Otaimatsu ceremony is held every day during the Shuni-e period. On March 12, a special “Ryūtaimatsu” torch is used. It weighs 70 kg and is 8 meters long, and the flames from this torch light up the corridor of Nigatsu-dō. It is said that being showered by the sparks from the Otaimatsu brings good fortune.

Quoted from Find Travel

Experience the Arrival of Spring!


This ancient and uninterrupted traditional event allows you to feel the arrival of spring. Why not come and be showered with the sparks from the torches to receive good fortune? Note that on March 12, the event can attract 20,000 to 30,000 people, so be prepared for significant crowds.

For detailed videos, click here.

Featured image quoted from Sokkou Skill Up Guide

(Edited by 千八乃)

関連記事

  1. Mystical Dance Festival: 2018 Kagura Festival, Ise City, Mie Prefecture

  2. Japan’s 1000-Year-Old Festival: “Tenjin Matsuri” in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

  3. Traditional Dance Passed Down Through Generations: “Ganjin Dance” in Hachirogata Town, Akita Prefecture

  4. 2017 Sounkyo Ice Waterfall Festival: Dates and Highlights!! Kamikawa Town, Hokkaido

  5. 【Festival Special】The Last Tori-no-Ichi of the Year! Oji Shrine Kumade Market in Kita Ward, Tokyo

  6. Mickey and Minnie Join the Festival!? 2018 Kobe Matsuri, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture