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The solemn ritual "Omizukuri," which calls spring, is fantastic with the torchlight procession reflected on the surface of the river!

Publication date:2024.02.06 / Update Date:2024.02.20

The solemn ritual "Omizukuri," which calls spring, is fantastic with the torchlight procession reflected on the surface of the river!

The parade of more than 1,000 torches, the light and heat from the flames of the gomadan, the chanting of sutras by ascetics dressed in white, and the sound of conch shells being blown: ....... On March 2, the solemn yet fantastic and dynamic traditional event "Omizuokuri" will be held at the Wakasa Jinguji Temple and Unose on the banks of the Onyugawa River that flows nearby.

A "promise" traditional event that has continued for 1,200 years.

March 2, a night in Wakasa, Hokuriku, where snow still lingers. A red band of burning torches moves along the road along the Enshiki River amidst the sound of conch shells. Following the lead group of people dressed as gyoja and carrying large torches, as many as 4,000 people form a procession, each holding a torch in his or her hand.

The destination of the procession is Unose. A priest called "mizushi" draws holy water from the akai (well) of Jinguji Temple, prays for it, and then pours it into the Unose to the Enshiki River.

This "Omizukuri" is actually an event to "send" the "water" (kozui) that is indispensable for the "Omizutori" ceremony at Nigatsudo Hall of Todaiji Temple in Nara. There is a deep bond and "promise" that has continued for 1,200 years.

Is "water" from Wakasa used for "Omizutori" at Todaiji Temple?


Unose, the stage of the water-sending ritual

It is believed that the "perfume" poured out at Unose is "sent" to Todaiji Temple in Nara over a period of 10 days, riding on the current of the Enshiki River and passing through an underground water vein; this is the reason why the akaiya (a well to draw up the perfume offered to the principal image) under Todaiji Nigatsudo, where "omizutori" is held on March 12, is called "Wakasa I".

Although the "Omizutori" at Nigatsudo is well known, few people know of its close relationship with the "Omizukuri" at Wakasa Jinguji Temple. It is said that the origin of this legend is related to the god Enshiki Myojin, who is now enshrined at Wakasa Hime Shrine.

God, impressed by the shunyukai, promises to send water from Wakasa

Enshiki Myojin, along with other deities, was invited to a shunie (a ceremony held at Todaiji Temple's Nigatsudo Hall). However, he was so engrossed in catching fish that he was the only one who was late.

When he arrived at the end of the event in two days, Enshiki Myojin was so impressed with the splendor of the Shunikai that he promised to send perfume from Wakasa to the temple. He promised, "From now on, I will send you perfume from Wakasa," and led the water to the bottom of Nigatsudo.

It is amazing that the "Omizutori" of Nigatsudo has continued for 1,200 years, but one cannot help but feel the weight of the ancient people's "promise" that the "Omizukuri" has continued for the same length of time.

Fire and water energy to stir the soul.

On the day of the water-sending ceremony, various events proceed, beginning with the Yamahachi Shinto ritual performed at Shimonegori-Hachimangu Shrine, followed by the bow-attack ritual at Jinguji Temple and the Dattantaimatsu (tartaric torch). Some of the rituals are not open to the public, but those that can be observed, such as the Tadataimatsu, the Daima Hojo, and the Sending Water Ceremony, have a dynamic and gorgeous atmosphere created by fire and water that will make you forget the cold weather.

The sight of the Tathagata torchlight is particularly powerful, with a gyoja "Katen" running around with a large torch through the corridors surrounding the magnificent main shrine of Jinguji Temple! The Daima Goma Hoemyo, in which a large fire is lit in the temple grounds, is also overwhelming, as you can feel the heat emitted from the rising pillars of fire up close.
Thus, omizukuri is a ritual to draw pure water to welcome the new spring and to dispel evil spirits with fire.

The clear Unose stream that makes you believe in a legend.

Whether Wakasa and Nara are truly connected by an underground water vein, we do not know. Nevertheless, when witnessing the "Omizukuri" ceremony, one can feel the weight of the "promise" that has continued for 1,200 years, and one can believe that the water will surely reach Todaiji Temple.

The water of the Enshiki River is still clear and there are many springs in the vicinity. This environment may also be a factor in supporting the 1,200-year-old legend.
The water at Unose, the site of the water-sending ceremony, has been selected as one of the "100 best waters" and can be drawn from a water station near Unose Bridge. Unose" stickers and PET bottles with the stickers are also available.

*For sanitary reasons, please do not take water directly from the river, but from a water station.

The sacred sites of the "Omizukuri" are filled with power spots!

Wakasa Jingu-ji Temple is the shingan-ji temple of the nearby Wakasa Ichinomiya Wakasa Hiko-jinja Shrine and Wakasa Himejin Shrine, and these three temples and shrines were originally one. Wakasa Hiko-jinja Shrine is also called Enshiki Shrine, and Wakasa-hime Shrine is dedicated to Enshiki Myojin. Why not take the time to visit the power spots of Wakasa?

Impressed by the depth of the town's forest! Wakasa Hiko-jinja Shrine

Wakasa no Ichinomiya's Kaminomiya, Wakasa Hiko-jinja Shrine. As soon as you step into the shrine, you cannot help but feel the power of the "Shinto shrine" from the depth of the forest and the thickness, height, and size of the trees. The feeling of respect for nature overflows, and you will be healed even before you reach the main shrine.
The two giant cedars that rise on either side of the approach to the temple are thought to represent two torii, one representing the future and the other the past. One represents the future and one the past. The one standing between them is the present, and a signboard reads, "In the center of the two giant cedars, look up at the sky, think of the future, and pray for the future.
The couple cedars connected at the base are also a famous power spot. It is said that the sun passes between the couple cedars around 9:00 a.m. on a clear day.

Thousand-year-old cedar trees and tranquil air "Wakasa Hime Shrine

Wakasa Hime Shrine, which enshrines the deity Enshiki Myojin, who is said in legend to have promised "Omizukuri," is also the Shimomiya (lower shrine) of Wakasa Hikohiko-jinja Shrine, the largest shrine in Wakasa. Although the approach to the main shrine is short, the tranquil air is overwhelming as soon as you enter the shrine grounds.
Above all, the "thousand-year cedar" towering beside the main shrine is larger than one might imagine. Compared to the main shrine, it is several times taller. The large ginkgo tree called "Nyukagami-sama" is also as big as the main shrine, and one can't help but look up at it as well.

Although the shrine is small and compact, this sacred space is a power spot with a charm that must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Golden Buddha image floating in the main shrine, "Wakasa Jinguji Temple

Wakasa Jinguji Temple, where the water-sending ritual is held. Stepping into the dimly lit main shrine, one is surrounded by the Twelve Divine Generals as if protecting Yakushi Nyorai. The golden light from the candles makes the Buddha images float in the air, creating a magical atmosphere. It makes you want to straighten your posture without realizing it.

*Wakasa Jinguji Temple is closed to visitors from February 15 to March 5 due to preparations for the Omizukuri.

Thinking about the long history

Omizusuri" is a fire festival that calls for spring. It is an event that makes us feel the strong prayer of people who wish for a bright future. At the same time, it is an event where one can feel the preciousness of keeping a "promise" over time. Marching to Unose with a torch is an unforgettable experience that allows you to become one with the long history of the festival.

Wakasa Jinguji Temple

Address 30-4 Jinguji, Obama City, Fukui Prefecture
Hours of visitation 9:00-16:00
Closed February 15 - March 5
Parking lot Yes
Access Approximately 7 minutes by car from JR Higashi Obama Station
Approximately 10 minutes by car from Obama IC on Maizuru-Wakasa Expressway
Fees Entrance fee: 500 yen

Wakasa Hiko-jinja Shrine

Address 28-7 Ryuzen, Obama City, Fukui Prefecture
Number of parking spaces 5 cars
Access 5 minutes drive from JR Higashi Obama Station

Wakasa Hime Shrine

Address 65-41 Tohshiki, Obama City, Fukui Prefecture
Access 10 minutes walk from JR Higashi Obama Station