Omizutori Festival: March 1-14, 2024

Each year, as the last signs of winter begin to fade, the ancient city of Nara, Japan, bursts into fiery brilliance with the celebration of Omizutori. This 1200-year-old Buddhist festival is a spectacular display of tradition, spirituality, and the enduring power of cleansing and renewal. If you’re in Japan in March, this is a must-see event.

What is Omizutori?

Omizutori, also called Shunie, is a series of repentance rituals to usher in the spring season.  Every year, the festival runs for two weeks from March 1st to the 14th. The festivities primarily take place at the majestic Nigatsudo Hall of the Todaiji Temple complex. The name “Omizutori” translates to “water-drawing,” referring to the sacred water drawn from a well beneath the temple.

A Festival of Fire and Water

The highlight of Omizutori is the Otaimatsu ceremony. Every night of the festival, at nightfall, monks known as rengyoshu carry enormous, blazing torches onto the balcony of Nigatsudo Hall. Showers of fiery sparks rain down upon the crowds. It’s believed to purify onlookers and bless them with a safe year ahead.

omizutori Japan nara japan Otaimatsu

During the festival’s culmination, on the night of March 12th, the water-drawing ceremony takes place.  Only at this time does water gush forth from the well. This water, diffused with the blessings of Kannon (the Bodhisattva of compassion), is offered to the deities and the public and is believed to have healing properties.

Experience Nara’s Timeless Charm with a Guided Tour

Nara Japan guided tours

While Omizutori is undeniably breathtaking, truly understanding the rich symbolism and history behind the festival takes an expert’s knowledge. To make the most of your Omizutori experience, consider joining one of our Nara guided tours.

Our seasoned guides will lead you through the beautiful Todaiji Temple complex and take you on a journey through Nara’s enchanting streets. Discover hidden shrines on our Nara Bike Tour, sample the delights of local cuisine on our Nara Craft Beer, Sake & Food Tour, and learn about the deep historical significance of this former imperial capital on our Nara Walking Tour. With an expert by your side, you’ll gain fascinating insights into the Omizutori festival and Nara’s unique place in Japanese culture.

Let us help you plan an unforgettable Omizutori experience! Explore our Nara tours today and immerse yourself in the heart of Japanese tradition.

See all Nara Tours

Got a question? Get in touch!
We respond to 90% of inquiries within one business day.
Still deciding? Send a message, we're here to help!
Don't forget to ask us about our secret discounts ;-)