On the fourth Saturday of bitterly cold January every year, the sacred Mt Wakakusayama, which rises 342 metres above sea level, is set on fire in Nara city for what is a ritual re-enactment of a boundary dispute of mythic proportions between the Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji temples here (Wakakusayama was at the heart of it all). Also known as Mt Mikasayama, entry to mountain that was once a volcano is prohibited during the festival, naturally. Japan is a country of legendary festivals and the Yamayaki is quite unique among them. Monks carry the sacred fire to the hill and ignite it, after which fireworks last for a good half hour. The blaze can be seen burning brightly for miles around, but the views are most beautiful at Nara city, which faces the inferno.
What: Fire on the mountain
When: January 31, 2015
Where: Kasugano-cho, Nara City; 20min walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, reached by the Kintetsu Limited Express from Kyoto Station