Cleansing with Fire: Ohitaki Festival at Kifune Shrine
Ohitaki also known as Winter Fire Festivals is a nightly Shinto ritual of Niiname-sai in Kyoto dating back to 330 years ago. The dancing flames provide a dramatic backdrop while the cleansing ritual takes place.
Visitors come and write their wishes on wooden prayer sticks called “Negai-gushi” which cost a few hundred yen. As the bonfires are lit, visitors will get the chance to see the cleansing ritual by the priest as they throw in wishing sticks written earlier and pray for the wishes made by the visitors.
The ritual starts in the shrine’s main hall with offerings of food, drink, and prayers, while the priestesses perform a sacred kagura dance for the gods called Miko-seai.
The Kifune Shrine in Kyoto itself is a marvellous spot to take place and drink from their clean water stream that flows from Mt. Kibune. The entrance of the shrine is surrounded by maple trees, colouring the backdrop matching with its red paints.
From here, you can find Kifune Jaya, 2 mins away from the shrine to dine in some tofu and seafood kaiseki, although, the soup special might be brewed with chicken stock. The restaurants have deck-like constructions right over the top of the cool, gushing river stream, where you will be having your meal surrounded by the sound of water flowing in a cool and relaxed atmosphere.
You can also enjoy a hearty vegetarian meal at Yushiji, a 10 minutes drive from the shrine. The establishment doe not use any animal ingredient so you may consume your food at peace.