- Fire festival. A collective term for festivals which involve fire, destroyer of evil and symbol of the descent of divine power. They are held for example to pray for the return of the sun after winter and to dispel evil influences, and are conducted at both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Fire festivals at New Year involve the burning of the seasonal decorations and divination for the coming year. An example of a shrine-based shogatsu no hi-matsuri (new year fire festival) is the Oni-yo (demon-night) festival at the Tamasu-jinja, Fukuoka. Huge pine torches one and a half metres across called taimatsu are set alight and hoisted up, supported on oak poles. The ritual 'closing' of Mt. Fuji at the end of the climbing season is marked by the lighting of several huge taimatsu during the Yoshida no hi-matsuri at the Fuji-sengen jinja, Yamanashi, August 26-27th.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.