A fixture since 1863 and held annually on January 15th, Nozawa Onsen’s Dosojin Fire Festival is one of the three biggest such spectacles in Japan. During the celebrations, prayers are offered up to the deity Dosojin.
Dosojin protects villages and its inhabitants from harm and is also the god of fertility, happy marriages, and healthy children. The tradition in Nozawa Onsen is for villagers to anonymously exchange carved wooden figurines of Dosojin while the fire festival takes place. Besides connecting members of the community in this way, the Dosojin Fire Festival provides another local service: bringing fortune to those men of Nozawa Onsen who are currently at the “unlucky” ages of 25 and 42.