Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday October 23nd, 2008. Today we will be talking about yet another Japanese festival.
As I have said many times before, I love festivals of all shapes and sizes. It just so happens that according to this story a major festival went on yesterday in Kyoto. The name of the festival is the Kurama Fire Festival.
Festivals are always cool, but when you add the extra spice of a lot of fire to the festival it becomes just that much cooler. The basic story of the festival all started way back in the year 940 AD. At that time there was a lot of small battles around Kyoto as well as large earthquakes. This all set a very dark tone in Kyoto. The emperor at the time , emperor Suzaku, decided that he wanted to do something to help cheer up the people of his capital city, so he arranged a huge march after dark with the portable shrine of the deity of the royal house at the front of the procession. Because the march was at night they needed something to light the way. The emperor came up with the idea to use reeds from the Kamo river. The whole procession was over a kilometer long and was apparently amazing because the people of the city decided they wanted to pass down the night march tradition to their children.
The shape of the march has not really changed over the years, but the scope has. Well to be precise, it is not the scope of the march but the scope of the torches that has changed. The festival now uses huge torches that can be about 4 meters (13 feet) in length and weigh over 100 kilograms (220 pounds). You can see a picture of these torches below as well as a video from the event this year.
Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 火(ひ). It is pronounced hi (as in "he")and means fire. The word brings Bevis and Butthead to mind.
That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.