Yamayaki is an event that sets fire to Mount Wakakusa. The flame engulfs the entire mountain, and then rises up into the night sky. There are many supposed theories as to how the Yamayaki began. Some say that the grassy hills were set on fire in order to commemorate their ancestors, while others say that the burning began as a way to encourage new growth for plant life. It is an important festival that signals the beginning of a brand new year, inviting the spring season to the city of Nara. The festival prepares 600 rounds of fireworks, bringing splendid beauty to the Yamayaki fire. From locations further away from the mountain, viewers are able to witness a collaboration between some of Japan's oldest historic structures and the Yamayaki. If you're after the thrill of the fire, you may want to get closer to the mountain. If you wish to see it as a gorgeous nightscape, we encourage you to see it from afar. (The picture above was taken from Suzaku Gate of the Heijo Palace ruins. *The photo was taken using long exposure, and therefore appearing different from how the naked eye would perceive. Katsumatano-Ike Pond is another popular photographing spot.)
The Yamayaki begins at 6:30 PM. Approximately 300 people holding lit torches ignite the grassy hills of Mount Wakakusa, signaled by sounds of Conch shell horns and trumpets. The sight of the flames slowly engulfing the 342m tall hill overlooking Nara City is quite an impressive sight to see.
At 6:15 PM—right before the start of the Yamayaki—the lighting of fireworks start, eventually launching approximately 600 rounds into the sky and heating up the festival. This fireworks show is the only occasion in the prefecture that features large "Shakudama" fireworks, promising a great thrill. Enjoy the combination of the red hot mountain and the colorful fireworks blending in the night sky.
The burning of the hill stands out as the main feature of the Yamayaki, yet from around 5 PM the sacred torch procession takes place as well. Participants of the Yamayaki in historical attire carry the flame up the mountain for the burning. You'd be able to witness the people dressed as ancient government officials and mountain monks, so get there early if you can!
Dears could get sick from accidentally eating trash left on the ground. Please take your own trash home with you.
Entering/climbing Mount Wakakusa on the day of the festival is extremely dangerous and therefore is prohibited.
Access to Mount Wakakusa
Kintetsu Nara Station (Kintetsu Nara Line)
You must catch a bus from the station
nearest bus stop: Todaiji Daibutsuden Kasugataisha-mae
bus line: Nara Kotsu Bus "Nara City Loop Line (clockwise)"
15m walk from the bus stop
Zoshicho, Nara City, Nara Pref.
Sakicho, Nara City, Nara Pref.
Shichijo 2, Nara City, Nara Pref.