One of the most impressive sights in Japan this January, the Wasakusa Yamayaki sees the entire mountainside go up in flames as fireworks are launched behind it. Although its origins are unclear, possible explanations include disputes about boundary lines between temples, attempts to scrae away boars and even ghosts. So, on the fourth Saturday of January each year, the ceremony takes place and has become one of the biggest attractions in Kansai. All three of the city’s primary shrines play a part (Todaiji, Kofukuji and Kasuga). You can enjoy festivities from 12pm, with food stalls and performances as well as senbei throwing contest taking place around the base of the mountain. A procession leaves the park at 5pm, lighting their torches at Mizuya shrine and arriving at the base of the mountain by 5.30pm. Here, a bonfire is lit before fireworks are released (just after 6pm) and the fire from the bonfire is used to light the mountainside. It tends to only take an hour or so for the mountain side to burn although it may take a little longer in wet weather. The park is the best spot to admire the display, but following crowds is a good idea too!
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