An area of ice where the God of ice is enshrined, “Himuro Shirayuki” Festival

The god of ice is enshrined at Himuro Shrine, Nara Prefecture and is worshipped by wholesalers of ice. Its festival began in 2014 to wish for the prosperity of shaved ice.

  Events, Nara,

People and the ice to freeze before the precincts.


【 CONTENTS 】

The Torii gate

The lantern

The Himuro Shirayuki Festival with the God of ice

The festival started in August of last year (2014) at Himuro Shrine. 1300 years ago, the city was moved to Heijo-kyo Castle in Nara and a pond of ice and icehouse were built to make ice in Kasugano. It was difficult to artificially make ice at the time, so the ice was preserved in underground or mountain shelters. The beginning of Himuro Shrine is said to be the first time when people enshrined the god of ice in an icehouse. The festival was started to promote Nara as a city of, the God of ice.

Numbered tickets are distributed inside the shrine.

Numbered tickets are distributed inside the shrine.

Let’s compare the Himuro shaved ice to a famous shop’s ice!

For those who can’t wait till summer comes, shaved ice or Kakigori is one of the treats that they’ve been longing for! There are many Kakigori shops gathered in the shrine that serve their special ice to their customers. The methods of shaving ice and the taste of syrups differ between each vendor. There were too many people wanting to eat their frozen treats, so they had to create a numbered ticket system.

Kigan-sai Ceremony

Kigan-sai Ceremony

Kigan-sai Ceremony

Kakigori and Mizore-cha, even God wants a taste!

The dedication of ice and tea serving are held in front of the god by the vendors at the Kigan-sai ceremony. Tea was served in a way called “temae”(点前), performed at tea ceremony when making matcha. After that, Mizore-cha was served to the first 100 participants. The pure white shaved ice is served in a small bowl and staff dressed in Nara period costumes pours the Mizore-cha over it. The ice looks like snow and is beautiful. The costumes also reminded me of snow, which felt so refreshing. The cold tea and ice cooled everyone down.

Kigan-sai Ceremony, staffs serving tea and ice.

Kigan-sai Ceremony, staffs serving tea and ice.

Kigan-sai Ceremony, staffs serving tea and ice.

The history of ice and the God of ice

It’s actually been only 150 years since people started to eat Kakigori. In 1869, a guy named Machida started selling Kakigori along with ice cream. Ice has long been served to those in power. I felt that the people’s attitude towards ice hasn’t changed since then, and the people still appreciate it at Kigan-sai. Himuro Shirayuki festival has just begun! Why not visit this festival of ice to experience Japanese food culture and Kakigori from all over Japan?

Dedicated ice in front of the God.

Dedicated ice in front of the God.

Map

1-4 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.

Information

Address 1-4 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture
Hours April to October 6:00 to 18:00 November to March 6:30 to 17:30
Access 15 min walk from Kintetsu Nara station.
Phone 0742-23-7297
Website http://www.himurojinja.jp/index.html