I Wonder about Japan

Japan is famous for its numerous holidays and festivals, there are festivals on a national scale, but most holidays and festivals inherent in a particular location. Typically each festival has its roots in religious significance and necessarily accompany these festivals the local Buddhist or Shinto temples. Holidays in Nara are no exception to the General rule.

So in Nara annually held feast, unusual at first glance — the festival of the burning of old grass (free interpretation) . The ceremony involved the Ministers of three significant temples in the city of Nara, is Kasuga-Taisha, Todai-JI and Kofuku-JI.

Traditionally it takes place on mount Wakakusa, the second name of this mountain — Mikasa. The mountain is located near Nara Park, the mountain height of 350 metres above sea level, this mountain offers a magnificent view of the city, especially at night.

On the hill is an observation deck, just 5 minutes from the observation deck is car Parking (extra charge). Tourists can walk around the mountain in the spring and fall, this is done to protect the vegetation that grows on the mountain. To get to the mountains on foot from the Kintetsu station in qaanaaq, the journey time is 35 minutes, until Wakakusa can be reached by bus, the ticket price is 180 yen. When you visit the mountains there are a number of restrictive measures, which serve as nature conservation, is such a well-known prohibitions as recycling waste, the ban on srabana trees and picking up vegetation that grows on the mountain, a ban on the game ball and dog walking, and others.

On the mountain, and everywhere in Nara, you can meet deer.

Mount Wakakusa known for the fact that on top of the tomb, built in the 5th century.

On the slopes of the mountains grows the amazing beauty of Sakura (I wrote earlier that this is one of the best places in Japan to enjoy the cherry blossoms ).

If you literally translate the name of the festival, it turns out Wakakusa — fried mountain. Every winter, on the fourth Saturday of January, but were the case, when due to bad weather, the festival was postponed to the following Saturday, residents of the city of Nara and tourists gather at the mount to see this spectacular sight. In 2014 the festival will take place on January 25.

Despite the fact that the burning mountain has been going on for hundreds of years, the cause of this festival in Nara is not known for certain, one of the versions — that the tradition of the burning mountains originated from a border dispute between the two temples Todai-JI and Kofuku-JI in 1760, when the disputing parties are unable to agree, the mountain was set on fire. Another version — the burning of herbs helps to exterminate wild boars and pests. Although this festival originated in the Edo period, but regularly has been performed only since the end of the Meiji era.

Officially, the festival starts at noon, after a series of events taking place at the base of the mountain. One of the attractions of the festival from 13.00 to 15.00 is a competition in throwing a giant rice crackers. These competitions are so popular that in this day crackers sold at a discount. And all that was was used during the contest, then serves as food to many deer.

Before five o’clock in the evening, a procession of 30 people in which participate representatives of the temples, going on the way to the mountain with burning torches. 18.00 procession arrives to Wakakusa, which has gathered several hundred people near the large fire and before the ceremony of the burning mountains be sure to start the 15-minute fireworks display. Then, using torches ignited the grass on the hillside and then the fire gradually spread throughout the mountain. Usually a blaze from 30 minutes to an hour, but in rainy years, the grass can burn slowly and not always burns through to the end. What is happening in mount Wakakusa it throughout Nara.

At the festival in Nara use precautions, in celebration of massively participate firefighters (volunteers), the place of the burning mountains fenced from the audience. The holiday is popular with local residents.

In the video you will see the celebration of the ignition of a mountain in Nara.

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