January 30, 2011

Fire for Purification

Every year Mt. Wakakusa in Nara is set on fire in January. But, why?

The origin of  "Mountain Burning Ceremony"  was  based on a ghost story. According to an old story, a ghost haunted around a small tomb on the top of the mountain and scared people. So, they decided to burn the entire mountain to console the ghost's spirit. Since then, every January Mt. Wakakusa Burning Ceremony has been held.  In Japan fire is used for purification both in Shinto( indigenous religion of Japan) and Buddhism. This ceremony dates back to 1760.

 I visited  Heijo Palace Site,  which was the center of Japan in 8th century, to enjoy viewing the ceremony. This year it was held on January 22nd.

                       In east, night started.
This structure is the reproduction of the ancient  Imperial Audience Hall.

                                             But, in west, still sunset stayed.

Six hundred fire works  were set off  and adorned the night sky.

The entire mountain was set ablaze.

On the way back to the station, I found a tranquil  reflection in a pond.

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  1. When I lived in Nara Pref., I saw that ceremony only once. I found it so terrific. I wish I could have been there more than once.
    The last photo is just breathtaking!
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day.

  2. Muchas gracias por tú comentario amigo, tienes unas fotos nocturnas muy bonitas.


  3. Beautiful and stunning report of "Yamayaki"! It's amazing that many time-honored ceremonies and festivals have been conducted with (almost) no interruption in Japan, which is precious asset.

    This is one of my favorites among all your wonderful posts. Thank you.

  4. Thank you for letting us know that the antique and elegant festival in Nara has a mysterious history.
    It's the most intriguing mountain-burning event.


  5. your pic is amazing, everyday i learn new things on japan, very enlightening

  6. Very impressive shot, the last one. It is my favourite.

  7. Beautiful photos! I like them a lot!

  8. Thanks so much for these fantastic photos!!
    I have not been to that newly built "大極殿”yet.
    I hope I'll visit it in the near future!!
    奈良にお住まいで羨ましいです。平城京遷都1300年祭でさまざまな催しがあって見どころもいっぱいだったでしょ?いいなぁ! 私は遷都1300年関連で東京国立博物館で開催されていた「東大寺大仏 天平の至宝展」でがまんしました(笑)

  9. What a fascinating post!

    «Louis» thanks you for visiting San Francisco Bay Daily Photo.

  10. I didin't know the origin of "Yamayaki".
    It's very interesting .
    Thanks for letting us know the story .
    I like the last one , amazing !!

  11. The story from you about the event is more romantic one than that I know which tells a fight between sects of Buddhists. The picture with shimmer on the water is beautiful!

  12. Thank you for leaving your kind and encouraging comments. I'm grateful to all of you!!

    The origin of "Yamayaki-Mountain Burning ceremony has a few theories.
    One of them is based on the ghost story.

    Several years ago,the custom of burning Mt. Wakakusa started to end the boundary dispute between Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple and Kasuga Grand Shrine. This theory was the mainstream.

    However, now officialy the ghost story is admitted. I supporse the reason is that the dispute theory doesn't sound nice.

    Thanks again. See you!!

  13. Daigokuden looks magnificient! Is it a pond that reflects the building? I didn't notice that when I visited it. It's impressive in the pitch dark.

  14. Hello snowwhite.
    The heavens of the navy blue.

    It is the profound expression that is good for the ancient city.

    Thank you for your visit.
    Good weekend.


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko