A night when you can discover the attraction of Nara through an ancient traditional ceremony
The Omizutori is a festival held at Nigatsu-do Hall of Todai-ji Temple in Nara Prefecture as part of the Shuni-e ceremonies. Todai-ji is the main temple of the Kegon sect of Buddhism located in the city of Nara. Also known as a building symbolic of Tempyo culture, the temple has many highlights such as the world’s largest wooden building, the Daibutsu-den, and Hokke-do Hall where you can witness exquisite sculptures. The Omizutori which takes place at Nigatsu-do Hall in Todai-ji is an especially famous event which began in the Nara Era and which lasts for 2 weeks between March 1st and 14th. For over 1260 years starting from the year 752, this has been a traditional event that has never once been stopped. Several months before the event, a group of 11 priests known collectively as the Rengyoshu is selected to perform the Bekka ceremony in February and stay over at the temple to prepare for the period of Hongyo before holding the Omizutori festival in March. During the Hongyo, 7m-tall torches are lit up with offerings of prayers nightly. Held every evening at 7pm, the Rengyoshu make their way to Nigatsu-do with their torches lighting the way while making prayers. Later, more torches are brandished in a ceremony known as Otaimatsu which is especially well-known within the Omizutori. It is said that being showered by the embers from the torches bring sound health. On March 12th, water to be offered to the Bodhisattva Kannon is drawn from the Wakasa Well which begins the Omizutori. In addition after the end of the event, the kinran hats which were used in the festival are placed on the heads of children to ensure their healthy upbringing so that many families bring their kids. This ancient and traditional event at Todai-ji to pray for the happiness of the residents of Nara as a harbinger of spring is truly magical with powerful flames lighting up the serene night enveloped in a profound atmosphere. If coming to visit Nara in March, then the Omizutori is a must-see.