I’m not lying when I say there's a Japanese fox shrine for traffic safety. Confused, I still am but it's still one of the most impressive fire festivals, I’ve ever (only) seen. The word Inari may sound familiar or at least the architecture is. The Inari shrines are famous for its giant red torii gates and messenger foxes. The most popular and most visited for tourist is Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taishi Shrine (伏見稲荷大社). However, Japan’s most famous is the Yutoku Inari Shrine (祐徳稲荷神社). This Inari shrine is located in Kashima City, Saga
...and yes it’s known for being a shrine for traffic safety (among other usual forms of luck and good fortune). Besides the shrine's strange call to fame. It's most popular event is a Bonfire Festival called 秋季大祭(お火たき). It occurs annually on December 8 at 8:00 P.M. This is a huge event and people from all over come to celebrate this festival. If you plan on attending keep traffic and crowd size in mind. At the beginning, the priests carry a fire torch from the top of the shrine to the bonfire. Keep your eyes on the right upper part of the shrine.The bonfire is made of old prayer charms and bear claws from the year before. Instead of adding more wood, everything is stacked together to burn through the whole night. The different layers of wood, branches, and bamboo are beautifully layered together. But the heat also varies, so be careful about burning your face, hands, and picture taking devices.
This is my second year and it seems like the burning materials change each time. I liked this year the most because the top layer was bamboo. The bamboo leaves burned very quickly and rain down with small firecracker-like noise. It felt like a mini volcano! After the ceremony is done, you can walk around the shrine. The top of the shrine is beautiful for taking pictures and the shops are nice to poke around. I suggest the sake manju.
By train from Nagasaki City, go from Nagasaki Station to Hizen-Nanaura Station肥前七浦駅 about 2 hours. Then take a 10 minute taxi to the Yutoku Inari Shrine.
By train from Saga, go from Saga Station to Hizen-Nanaura Station肥前七浦駅 about 1 hour. Then take a 10 minute taxi to the Yutoku Inari Shrine.
By car from Nagasaki City or Saga City it’s about 1 hour.