Events and Festivals in Nara

  • Yamayaki: This festival is held on the fourth Saturday of January every year. This is Nara’s most visually stunning festival. At around 5.30 in the evening, a fire is lit in the middle of Mount Wakakusayama. This is done to drive away evil spirits. This event is followed by a spectacular display of fireworks.
  • Mantoro (Lantern Festival): Held twice annually, in the month of February and then in August, the some 3000 lanterns placed around Kasuga-Taisha Shrine are lit up in the evening. The entire place looks magical and like wonderland!
  • O-Taimatsu and O-Mizutori: Held in the month of March, this is a torch lighting and water drawing festival held at Todai-ji temple. It is a 1200-year-old ceremony. The climax of the festival is that in the evening of the last day of the festival, priests stand on the second-floor veranda of the temple, light huge torches and scatter sparks over the assembled crowds! This is done to protect them from evil spirits. At 2 a.m. the priests collect water from the well, after which they whirl more lit flares round in a frenzied dance.

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