Fukui may not be full of large shopping malls or sightseeing destinations that attract large groups of tourists from overseas, but the lush environment, terroir and distinct climate of Fukui have led to the creation of our outstanding traditional slow food and sake cultures, while Fukui's history and climate have shaped our traditional arts and crafts. Our deep Zen-like spirituality has been handed down from generation to generation, becoming the cultural and historical heritage that lives on today.
— The Omizu-Okuri Rite —
My day started with a train from Fukui Station on the JR Hokuriku Main Line. After a transfer at Tsuruga, I made my way to Obama Station, my destination.
I was in Obama to visit Jinguji Temple for Omizu-Okuri, a religious rite performed there on March 2nd each year.
The Wakasa region of southern Fukui prefecture has long had deep ties to Kyoto and Nara, former capitals of Japan. Omizu-Okuri is a traditional rite that connects Wakasa with Nara, and it begins at 11:00 in the morning.
That said, it isn’t open to the public until about 1:00 in the afternoon. After watching the archery rite held on the grounds of Jinguji Temple, I walked around the temple grounds in order to be able to participate in the nighttime torch procession.
The temple had omamori charms and amazake, a sweet non-alcoholic drink made from the rice used to make sake.
The evening’s procession is open to members of the public who purchase a torch for ¥1,500. After writing my prayer of choice on the torch, all that was left was to wait for night to fall.
Around 6:00, the flames began to grow within the temple grounds, with a giant torch being gracefully spun around.
The white-clad priests arrived and performed a Buddhist service before the flames, and then joined the torch procession.
Behind the priests with the large torch, there was a person carrying the Go-Kosui (water to be “sent” to Nara and “received” by Todaiji Temple on March 13) and people carrying moderate-sized torches, with members of the public at the tail end carrying their own torches.
The procession headed toward Unose Spring (one of Japan's 100 finest springs), about 1.8 km away. The torch-lit scenery in the darkness was truly magical.
We arrived at Unose Spring around 8:00. After a torch was lit, the head priest of Jinguji Temple used a sword to ward off evil spirits and read the Sosuimon prayer, then poured the Go-Kosui into the river. The sound of conch shell horns filled the air, for a beautifully serene atmosphere.
This festival of water and flames marks the start of spring in Wakasa, with the spirit of Zen.
【The Omizu-Okuri Rite】
Snow Lanterns and Winter Fireworks in a Castle Town
The Echizen Ono Winter Story Festival
Delicate Winter Blossoms in Fukui
A Stylish Way to Enjoy the Flavors of the Season
Seasonal Dinner at an Izakaya Pub
Experiencing Fukui’s Food Culture with a Soba-making Hands-on Experience at
Echizen Soba Village
Inheriting and Preserving Traditions for the Future
Echizen Pottery Designated Japan Heritage
Learning about the Value of Life
at the Port of Humanity Tsuruga Museum
Experiencing the Heart of Zen
through Zazen Meditation at Daijoji Temple
Exploring the Natural Beauty and the History of Wakasa
Uriwarinotaki and Kumagawa-juku Historic Post Town
Enjoying the Charming Atmosphere of
A Mystical World of Water and Flame
The Omizu-Okuri Rite
A Unique Festival to Mark the Start of Spring
The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival
Enjoying the Finest Seafood in Fukui’s ZEN Environment
Nihonkai Sakanamachi Seafood Market
Coming in Contact with Traditional Technique
The Highlight of Winter in Fukui
Echizen Gani Crab
Beneath the Brilliant Red Leaves
The Autumn Colors of Echizen Ono Castle