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A firewalking ritual to pray for protection from fire and disease

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2021.11.04 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

This Saturday, on November 6th, Akiba Shrine in Taito City will host a rare ritual. As the name "Firewalking Ritual" suggests, following a ceremony, the shrine's ascetics in religious training and visiting worshipers will walk over charcoal embers while praying for fire prevention and freedom from disease. The walkers will appear to be striding over flames, but in reality they will walk between charcoal fires along the edges of the path.

This firewalking ritual is held at Akiba Shrine because of the shrine's status as a focus of prayers for fire protection by people all over Tokyo. Akiba Shrine was moved from the Imperial Palace to what is now Akihabara as a guardian against fire, following a great fire that broke out at the beginning of the Meiji era. Akiba Shrine is in fact the origin of the name Akihabara, a place that fans of anime and manga are familiar with. With the development of railways, the shrine moved to its current location in Taito City.

In this season of dry air and increased risk of fire, why not pass over the flames to pray for protection? Akiba Shrine is located a 5-minute walk from Iriya Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line.

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