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Yamayaki: Mount Wakakusayama on fire!

On the last Saturday of January, Mount Wakakusayama in Nara is set on fire for Yamayaki, an event with origins dating back to a dispute between temples.

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Mount Wakakusayama is a former volcano, 342 meters above the sea level, the slopes of which are set on fire for New Year, for Yamayaki.


The festival starts with the sacred fire of Kasuga Taisha Shrine, with which a torch is set ablaze, to be carried to another smaller shrine at the foot of the hill by Buddhist monks. Kofuku-ji, Todai-ji, and Kasuga Taisha members set fire to the hill that burns for about 30 minutes, during which some 200 fireworks burst above it. The show can be watched from all cities around but the best view is from Nara.


The event is said to come from a dispute about the boundaries of Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji Temples. As it didn’t seem to come an end, an official mediator was sent in 1760 and Mount Wakakusayama, the heart of the conflict, was set ablaze. Another story says that the fire aimed at chasing wild boars or insects away.


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  • Culture & traditions
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