Back in February there was a yamayaki festival in Nara. Yamayaki literally means mounting burning. The festival itself is what you think it is; people set a mountain ablaze. In this case, it was Mt. Wakakusa in Nara. Why, you ask? Well, some people say it originally started off with a territorial dispute between two temples. When negotiations failed, it led to the whole mountain being set on fire. Others say the mountain is set ablaze in order to get rid of pests or wild boars. Whatever the reason was originally, nowadays people celebrate it in a festival fashion. Food stands are scattered around the mountain base and before the actual burning ceremony, there is a fireworks display. I thought it was a little weird to be seeing fireworks in the dead of winter but since I was at the very front, I got an excellent view.
After the fireworks went off, it was time for the burning to begin. Various people carry large torches of fire that they place over the dead grass. The fire caught on pretty fast and I was surprised to see how fast it spread. However, as soon as it begun, it quickly began to die down. Still, I thought it was really cool to see a nice chunk of the mountain on fire. It felt peaceful and hypnotic in a way, watching the flames spread only to quickly die out.
I was by the very front so I got a good view of the whole event. However, I wonder what it was like if you saw the mountain from Nara Park? The mountain is big enough for you to be able to see it from just about anywhere. Maybe I’ll try further away next time. That’s another festival off the checklist!