Tomonoura’s Otebi Festival is held in the evening before the second Sunday in July, where the town of Tomonoura is transformed into a sea of fiery reds.
The Otebi Shrine Ritual is a purified ritual that takes place on June 4th in the old calendar before the Mikoshi Togyo of Susano no Mikoto, the deity of Gion Palace, which is the current Nunakuma Shrine. Festival goers frequent every year to pray for good health and to ward off evil.
An Otebi is a kind of fire torch that’s typically 4.5 meters long and more than 200 kg in weight, made with the timbers of pine trees and the wood of sacred trees called Muronoki, and tied together with green bamboo. The Otebi is lit with a divine fire made using the sparks from a flint stone, and a group of Ujiko, parishioners carry it up the large stone steps. This red-hot festival will take you back to the sacred origins of fire.
When the Otebi is delivered to the front of the shrine, the great fire festival begins and continues on until midnight.
Locals light smaller torches from the three main fires in the area, and take them to purify their homes. On the night of the Otebi Ritual, you can see small fire torches burning around the town, as though the stars have fallen from the sky.
If you were to view the scene from the sky, it would seem as though the summer fireflies were putting on a spectacular display.
Otebi Shinto Ritual
Place/ Nunakuma shrine
Address/ 1225 Ushiroji, Tomo-cho, Fukuyama-shi, Hiroshima
Dare/ Held in the evening before the second Sunday in July
Tel/ +81-84-982-2050（Nunakuma Shrine）