Hiwatari Matsuri, or Fire Walking Festival is held at Mount Takao, Japan. The event is dedicated to the Tengu, or mountain spirit and is for purification and renewal. Monks light a massive bonfire and then douse it with water until the flames are quelled. They then throw people's prayers, which are written on wood tablets, into the fire. Just before the monk's cross the fire, they flagellate themselves with bamboo in boiling water. Then, two by two the monks cross the burning hot coals. To finish the festival, all the onlookers line up and walk the coals, now substantially cooler, and receive a blessing from the head monks. With a final prayer to the mountain spirits, the monks head back into the mountains from which they came.
Lighting the Fire
Beating Back the Flames