Sunday, March 4, 2012

Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival

Over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend we took one of our first big adventures together in Japan. We packed up our little white Cube and drove 4 hours north to Nagano prefecture for the fire festival that was taking place that weekend. (Prefectures are like the states of Japan). The drive up was beautiful and it was our first opportunity to use our new camera!

We experienced quite a bit of snow while we were there. When we got there, it had snowed about a foot the night before, so they were still doing clean up.

Then it snowed another foot overnight the first night that we were there. Here is the snow out our window on day one and day two.

We spent the weekend in a VERY traditional Japanese lodge, including sleeping on the floor and eating (well, not really eating, more like "being offered") raw fish for breakfast.

While we were there, I took my first stab at skiing, which went very badly and we met up with some friends that I work with.

The little village of Nozawa is neat. We walked the whole thing in about 2 hours and really enjoyed it.

The actual fire festival took place on Sunday and was a long and interesting experience. Over the weekend, the people in town build a large structure to burn. When the festival starts, the 45 year old men in the village climb on top of the structure while the 23 year old men attack it from the bottom and try to light it on fire. This whole thing took about 2 hours to go through with no success on the 23 year old's part. Eventually, they lit the structure and let it burn to the ground. We did not stay for the whole burning part, but it was definitely worth being there!

We had a blast while we were there and I am really glad that we went up. Enjoy the pics! Here are a few more scenery shots...

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