Omizutori Matsuri

Omizutori Matsuri (Water-Drawing Festival)

March 1-14
Omizutori Matsuri is marked by religious rites, officially called Shuni-e, that have been observed for 12 centuries at the Buddhist Todaiji Temple in the city of Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan. During this period of meditative rituals, the drone of recited sutras and the sound of blowing conchs echo from the temple. The high point comes on March 12, when young monks on the gallery of the temple brandish burning pine-branch torches, shaking off burning pieces. Spectators below try to catch the sparks, believing they have magic power against evil.
At 2 a.m. on March 13, the ceremony of drawing water is observed to the accompaniment of ancient music. Buckets are carried to a well, and the first water of the year is drawn and offered to the Buddha. Then the monks perform a final dramatic fire dance to the beating of drums.
For many Japanese, the Omizutori signals the start of spring.
CONTACTS:
Nara City Information Network
Nara City Hall Tourism Information Ctr.
1-1-1 Nijo Oji Minami
Nara, 630-8012 Japan
81-7-4222-3900; fax: 81-7-4234-1111
www.city.nara.nara.jp
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 43
RelHolCal-2004, p. 217