Omizutori Fire Festival

A dramatic celebration of fire and water.

Culture & Heritage | Faith & Spirituality


For the past 1250 years, this dramatic, two-week long Buddhist festival has combined sacred water with purifying flames. Come from March 1 to 14 and witness the spectacle.

Don’t Miss

  • The chance to witness one of the oldest Buddhist rituals in Japan
  • Seeing the brilliant flaming torches light up the night during the Otaimatsu Festival

Sacred water from afar

The holy water for the festival comes from Obama City in Fukui Prefecture. Before being transported, Obama City has a celebration on March 2 to celebrate the water leaving for Nara.

According to legend, the water used in Omizutori has divine properties, and it is said the water is able to cure any ailment. As a result, visitors are offered a chance to drink some of the water after it is offered to the Buddhist deities. The people who draw the water take a vow of silence in the days leading up to the festival.

Preserving the water

On the final day, the divine water is mixed with water from another pot that has been replenished at the festival for over 1200 years. This mixture of special waters is then saved for the next year.

Following the completion of the festival, it’s said that spring has officially arrived and the cherry blossoms will start to bloom.

The Otaimatsu Festival

Every evening during the Omizutori festival period, you can witness the fiery Otaimatsu Festival. Young ascetics run back and forth along the temple’s balcony, carrying huge pine torches. The constant movement and whipping around causes sparks to scatter upon the crowd below. These sparks are said to grant protection from evil spirits.

Two weeks of festivities

Omizutori is actually the highlight of 14 days of praying. During this time, worshippers are expected to confess all of their sins to the Kanon statue and offer up prayers for world peace and a good harvest.