“Sukagawa/ The Taimatsu Akashi”, a grand fire festival

A swirling fire burning bright red, soaring up into the sky in front of your eyes. Fire sparks fly into the air, and blasts of hot air come blowing onto the faces of spectators. You will be overwhelmed by the energy of the fire when you see Taimatsu, or torch, blazing up so close.

“The Taimatsu Akashi” is a fire festival held in early November at Mt. Gorozan in the city of Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, with over 400 years of history. It extends back to the 17th century when samurai warriors were battling to unify Japan. Areas around Sukagawa also became a battlefield and this event is said to have started by the local residents of this area to dedicate to the spirits of those who fell in battle.

Taimatsu are carried to the venue in the afternoon of the festival day.

The biggest Taimatsu called Otaimatsu is about 10 meters tall, weighing about 3 tons. In recent years, 30 of them are set up. These Otaimatsu are presented to the public at 1:30 pm on the day of the festival and people carry them to the venue parading down the streets, shouting “Wasshoi, wasshoi”.

The Taimatsu are carried by those who make them, which include corporates, local groups and schools. While keeping their own method of making Taimatsu, everyone adds improvement every year, in an attempt to make their Taimatsu so it will “flame up quickly and drop to the ground the moment it burns out.” At 6:30 pm, Taimatsu are finally lit. The scene of these Taimatsu blazing up all together along with the rhythm of festival drums is simply overwhelming.

The Taimatsu Akashi/ Sukagawa City