Intense Burn: Shinto Rite at the Heian Shrine
Hot Stuff -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1250 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Hot Stuff
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You may recall (from my shrine-closing ceremony post last fall) photos of a Shinto rite of hope and good fortune of some sort, involving the burning of small sticks that had people's names and ages on them. As the sticks burned, the wishes and hopes of the person rose with the smoke (to the gods, I guess).

As I hinted with the Hot Stuff post the other day, this rite was done as part of the Setsubun events at the Heian Shrine.

Bundle of Sticks 50 sticks per -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 130mm — 1/500 sec, f/4.5, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Bundle of Sticks
50 sticks per

At the shrine-closing ceremony, perhaps 60 sticks were burnt. At the Heian Shrine this past Sunday, about 40,000 were burnt.

Pallet of Bundles ( 1 of 2 ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 82mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Pallet of Bundles
( 1 of 2 )
Arriving from the Shrine The 3rd and 4th priest carry boxes holing flames that will be used -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/500 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Arriving from the Shrine
The 3rd and 4th priest carry boxes holing flames that will be used
Pre-Burn Blessing -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Pre-Burn Blessing

There were two pyres, constructed mostly of wet-looking evergreens, along with a bunch of the “hope sticks” (I don't know what they're really called) arranged in a lattice for quick combustion, just as seen in the shrine-closing post. Large logs provided the shell/support for each pyre.

The pyres were lighted from the flames brought in the two boxes, and heavy smoke was soon billowing. The shot below was taken just a minute and a half after they were lit.

Just the Beginning -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 82mm — 1/800 sec, f/4, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Just the Beginning

The first large flames started shooting out less than a minute later, and soon after they were a raging inferno. The bulk of the hope sticks had yet to be added.

Intense -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 120mm — 1/2000 sec, f/4, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Intense

It was at about the time the pyres were really burning full tilt that I suddenly remembered the sermon from Mass earlier in the day. The priest had talked of a group of 50-some Kyoto Catholics that were burnt at the stake in October 1618 for committing the offense of being Christian. One of the families included a pregnant mother and six of her other children.

According to a Japanese account of the incident, the guy in charge of carrying out the executions made sure to pile the wood close and high. He knew some of the accused, he said, and wanted their deaths to be quick. How civilized.

Anyway, that was 400 years ago; today, the flames were fed only by wood.

The priests chanted nonstop, using microphones to broadcast the chant to the wider audience (although no one could understand what they were chanting; if it was in Japanese, it was sufficiently archaic to be unintelligible even to native speakers).

Chanting -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Chanting

I used a fast shutter for most of these pictures: the “Intense” shot above is at 1/2000th second. The photo on the hot-stuff post is even faster at 1/2500th second. The flames were really whipping about, so I tried a slower shutter to blur the flames a bit...

Flames at 1 /60 th Second -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 160mm — 1/60 sec, f/20, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Flames at 1/60th Second

After about seven minutes of mostly intense, angry flames, came time to burn the hope sticks that awaited on pallets. Each pallet had 168 bundles of 50 sticks each, yielding 16,800 sticks to be added. The younger priests started throwing them, but from a distance because it was really hot.

Adding Fuel to the Fire -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/640 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Adding Fuel to the Fire
On Standby -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 95mm — 1/160 sec, f/5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
On Standby
In Line -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
In Line
300+ Bundles, One at a Time -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 150mm — 1/500 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
300+ Bundles, One at a Time
Smokin' Hot -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 190mm — 1/350 sec, f/6.3, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Smokin' Hot

Two young guys worked the fires with long mental poles, pulling embers out so that air could get in, and otherwise tending the fires. They were in the heat and the smoke the whole time, and they did not look like they were having fun.

Tending the Fire -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/60 sec, f/4.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Tending the Fire
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/250 sec, f/4.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos

Thirty minutes after it started, it was over, and the fire brigade came in to clean up.

Aftermath -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 34mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Aftermath

Continued here...


One comment so far...

So that was the barbecue. Weird. And I learnt something what happened 400 years ago. Both (the historical and the modern event) were new to me. Interesting. Japan is a strange country after all, but of course one could say that about any other country, too.

— comment by Anne on September 9th, 2012 at 1:31am JST (5 years, 1 month ago) comment permalink
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