Hot Footing It in Takaosan-guchi
It`s the third time I`ve been to this well-known fire walking festival in the hills of Takaosan-guchi, and each time I think it will be the last but the event is just too spectacular to pass up and I found myself, this Sunday, on the train again heading up to the festival once more.
This year though, unlike before, we photographers were rather restricted in where we could go. Before we had been able to move around pretty freely inside the ground where a huge bonfire of cedar branches is lit and which, after it has burnt down a bit, the Yamabushi or mountain priests walk over. of course they got a bit jumpy and tried to keep you away if you got too close the flames. This year I didn`t even take a telephoto lens thinking I`d be braver and take more risks shooting the fire and the priests closer and more dramatically with a wide angle. But as we weren`t actually allowed beyond the perimeter this time, or anywhere near the action at all in reality it was an effort to get some of the shots I wanted and maybe this will be the last time I go.
Still a good day though with an authentic cultural feel, something exotic and lots of old and new friends among the photographers and journalists there.
More images of the Hiwatari, Fire Walking festival on Mount Takao in Japan at my archive here
Click here from a fun little multimedia piece on the festival by the Guardian`s Justin McCurry. Certainly helps get across the mesmerizing noise of the festival. You can almost smell the smoke too. Almost…