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One of the best things about Japan: the festivals. Great food, fun people, and centuries-old rituals, however weird they might seem. In this case, the Daizenji Oniyo Fire Festival, six giant torches are put on fire by men in loincloths. In January. Did not envy them.

This Kurume tradition to drive away evil spirits dates back to the 5th century, and is one of the three major fire festivals in Japan. Just when I was grumbling about coming back to cold Japan from the sunny tropics, I was welcomed back by the sight of huge flaming torches lighting up the, ahem, full moon night.

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