Japanese Water-Drawing Festival(Omizutori), Nara City, Japan

About Japanese Water-Drawing Festival(Omizutori)

Matsuri or Japanese Festivals are considered as an important part of the Japanese culture. Every year, the whole country celebrate different festivals from almost every region in Japan. Aside from performing sacred rituals and parades, these festivals are tastefully done as a way of welcoming a large number of guests in the country. It is also a nice method of introducing the Japanese lifestyle to the tourists who would love to have a memorable experience in Japan during their stay. One of the many festivals is called the Omizutori or Water-drawing Festival which is held at the Todaiji Temple in Nara City, Japan. Todaiji or the Great Eastern Temple is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in the country. It is also known for having the largest statue of the bronze Buddha or what the Japanese people call Daibutsu. The festival lasts for two weeks where they will perform the Shuni-e (Second-month Service) to pray for the forgiveness of their sins as well as other forms of thanksgiving and religious ceremonies. 

To know more about the festival, here are the activities and events at the Todaiji Temple:


Officiated by priests, the burning of the torches from the Nigatsu-do hall’s balcony is performed every night until the festival is over. The torches are quite big and heavy, but the sizes would differ depending on the dates in which the ceremony is being conducted. Every year, they have to select a total of 11 priests to carry the torches. These priests pray for the absolution of sins and country’s well-being at the Juichimen Kannon or the eleven-headed Buddhist deity. On the last day of the festival, the lighting of the torches would last for only five minutes, but usually it could go on for about twenty to forty minutes. This part of the event is highly anticipated by the devotees and tourists as they gather below the temple grounds to witness the ceremonial torch lighting. This is a significant part of the ritual since this act is believed to bring blessings and good harvest to the land. The ashes from the torches are said to bring good luck to the participants for the whole year. In order to get a great view, tourists who are planning to witness the ritual are proposed to be there early or hours before it gets dark.

Omizutori Ceremony (Water-drawing Ceremony)

The 11 Buddhist monks or Renhyoshu were chosen a year before the festival takes place to arrange the necessary preparations and to make sure that everything is set for the upcoming event. The Omizutori ceremony will start as early as around one or two in the morning on the 12th day of March. The water-drawing ritual is done from the well of the temple as a form of sacred offering to the Bodhisattva Kannon. As a result, it is believed that the water possesses healing properties.

Dattan Ceremony (Fire Ceremony)

The Dattan Ceremony will happen during the last couple of days of the festival. On the 13th day of March, the ceremony will commence at two in the morning and at one in the morning on the last day of the festival. During the ceremony, the monks will carry the torches and parade from the Nigatsu-do Hall as they run around the temple corridor. Children would also be seen wearing Dattan hats which is a symbol for good health. The end of the ceremony is said to be the beginning of spring for the people in Nara City. The festivals have become a crucial component of Japan’s history, which is why the Japanese people never fail to acknowledge and celebrate the blessings and success that they have achieved every year.


Japanese Water-Drawing Festival(Omizutori) Youtube

Festival Schema

Starts: 03/01/2016
Ends: 03/14/2016

Omizutori Festival Dates

  • Omizutori Festival 2016: Mar.01-14
  • Omizutori Festival 2015: Mar.01-14

Upcoming festival dates/Upcoming festival events/Upcoming festival list