35th Festival of Fire & Bell in Mabuni
The Okinawa Association is finalizing plans for the 35th Mabuni Fire & Bell Observance New Year’s Eve into New Year’s Day.
The ceremonial festival takes place at Okinawa Peace Memorial Hall, which also stands in Mabuni, with prayers being offered to the 230,000 who died during the Battle of Okinawa. Prayers begin at 10 p.m., and the event continues to 1 a.m.
Just before the new year arrives, moments before the stroke of midnight, the flame of prayer will descend from the 45-meter-high bell tower to light participants’ torches as they welcome in the new year. As a choir sings, the Bell of Peace is rung as participants light the large flame holder with their torches. It’s a solemn, chilling
festival that’s not to be missed.
The festival is an event in which the new year is greeted with wishes for a permanent peace in the world while the large sacred fire of repose of souls is carried out, followed by a participant’s hanging up of the torch honoring the war dead during the memborial service.