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The Colours of NARA

俞祎君 Aggi Yu 2018-04-04 13:49

The Harmonious World of Deer and Human 

The annual “Mountain Burning” and “Glaze Show” are exhilarating events, with the shrines and temples scattered all over the city attracting tourists from around the world. And as of the Nara deer that live freely all over the city, they’ve already become a legendary part of Japan. 


In 710 AD when Kasuga Grand Shrine was established, the arch-priest of Kashima Shrine, Takemikazuchi, was seen riding a deer and visiting Kasuga, 

and henceforth the local residents cherish deer as the messenger of god. “Deer Horn Appeal” originated in 1862, initially as a celebration of the completion of Deer Garden and later becoming a place of interest. The winter Horn Appeal usually takes place in early February. Workers from Nara Deer Protection Foundation play clips from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony, the Pastoral, with horn. On hearing the music, the Nara deer in their wind-proof thick fur would gather around and share the delicious acorns. After that, they turn to the visitors – asking for the “Deer Senbei”, a cracker specially made from rice bran and flour. 


According to the data disclosed by the Nara Park officials, currently 1,498 deer inhabit the park. Nara Deer Protection Foundation even designed “Deer Senbei” for the visitors to purchase, in case of death cases from inappropriate feeding. To be noted, the park forbids visitors from feeding the deer with self-prepared food, and only the “Deer Senbei” is allowed. Violators may face a penalty up to 50,000 Yen. 

As you witness, wild life and human beings co-exist harmoniously in Nara. Here, more than a thousand deer live serenely with the residents.

Touring Glaze Showin the Cold Night

Aside from the magnificence of Mountain Burning and the wonderous fireworks, the Nara Glaze Show takes place around Nara Park from February 8th to 14th every year. Furthermore, the sparkling lights turn Kasuga Grand Shrine, Kofuku and Todai Temples into a scene from a magical world. 


Wandering in the sea of LED lights, visitors are amazed by the sparkling paradise. In addition to the gentle moonlight and night view, there are hot springs for you to jump in. The largest site of the Glaze Show is located around Todai Temple, which is also where you can find several free hot springs. Nara is extremely cold during the night, yet quite a few visitors choose to soak their feet in the hot spring water. Immerse in the comforting spring, and look around, the sparkling lights switch back and forth under the great canvas of sky. Isn’t it a wonder to marvel at? 

Everyone knows February 14th is Valentine’s Day, which also happens to be the birthday of Nara Park. Without question in this special night you will see various celebrations including a splendid fire show, added by a touch of romanticism. 

Wakakusa Mountain Burning Says Farewell to the Past

Festivals that involve burning something usually fall at the end of year, implying that it is time to say goodbye to the past and welcome the future. The Wakakusa Mountain Burning Ritual, or the Wakakusa Yamayaki, is no different from “Burning the Clocks” in Brighton, U. K., or the Moon House Burning during the Lantern Festival in Korea - they all carry the message of blessing the future and embracing the new age.


Every last Saturday of January is the day of the Mountain Burning festival. The most recognized origin indicates the festival was born from a conflict of land boundaries: The boundary between Kofuku and Todai-Ji Temple lead to an irreconcilable conflict and eventually the government officials burned down the cause of the conflict - Mount Wakakusa, to settle the issue. Eventually, Mountain Burning became a custom. The ritual starts with the kindling of the fire at Kasuga Grand Shrine, with the accompany of monks and transferring to the shrine below the mountain. When the city lights are extinguished, approximately 600 fireworks rocket to the sky and the 33-acre Wakakusa lawn falls into a sea of flame. The tranquil winter night melts into the arena of splendid firework and flaming mountain, while the sky above is painted with a strong touch of redness. The fire would last for half an hour. After that, organizers and firemen would begin to extinguish the fire according to the on-site situation.

During the Mountain Burning, visitors, as well as the local citizens, are prohibited from climbing. The winter feast of fire and light can be seen from downtown Nara or Nara Park, and in order to protect the lawn of the mountain, visitors are only allowed to enter during spring and autumn. 

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