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Soon after visiting Akagi, we decided to head the other side of Gunma for the Nanmoku Fire Festival. This festival is really cool, but we had a few mishaps getting there, the least of which was the torrential rains as we drove toward the village where the festival was being held.

The second least of things was the fact that we got the directions wrong and drove one prefecture too far, and had to double back. You see, the kanji for Nanmoku is “南牧”. But the kanji for a nearby village located in Nagano prefecture is also “南牧”, only it is pronounced “Minamisaku” instead. Very confusing. So we had a scenic detour and took a different route to get there, which resulted in us getting there a little late. Oh well, at least the rain had stopped!

Driving into Nagano after rain

The road we took back to Gunma was very nice… I liked this torii gate! Can you see it?

The mist on the mountains was SO pretty!


Getting there, the festival has already started!

So what IS a fire festival anyway? In this village, bales of hay are tied to a rope, set on fire, and swung in large circles until they burn enough to fall into the river below. This creates really, really cool pictures, and there were a ton of cameras set up when we got there. I have no idea what the significance is, but it was neat to see! People can also apparently try it themselves, but we didn’t know and so we didn’t get that chance.

Crossing the bridge to find a spot

A few circles going at once

Blurry, but you get the idea!

This one I thought was neat too

We changed angles and I zoomed in on one… cool!

And the sign as we left

Now my camera is not the strongest, although since getting Kenji’s old D40 they have gotten a lot better. He got some really awesome pictures though! Here are a few I liked from his camera:

Just getting there, almost dark

4 rings, just like mine only better!

I hope we get a chance to go back (and don’t get lost next time!) I want to try it myself! (oh no…)