Zen, Alive. Fukui

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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.

A Mystical World of Water and Flame

— The Omizu-Okuri Rite —

A Mystical World of Water and Flame 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.

Jinguji TempleJinguji Templearchery rite

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.

omamori charmsamazake

The temple had omamori charms and amazake, a sweet non-alcoholic drink made from the rice used to make sake.

torch

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.

writing my prayer of choice on the torch

Around 6:00, the flames began to grow within the temple grounds, with a giant torch being gracefully spun around.

flames began to grow within the temple groundsBuddhist servicegiant 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.

processionprocession

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.

the Go-Kosui into the river.

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】
http://wakasa-obama.jp/TouristAttract/TouristAttractDetail.php?64


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