For over 250 years, people have gathered at the base of Mt. Wakakusa in Nara on the fourth Saturday in January to watch the mountain burn. The Yamayaki, which translates to "mountain burning", festival is said to have its roots in a conflict between the Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples that dates back to 1760. But what started as a conflict grew into a revered custom.
The uniquely beautiful city of Nara has kept true to this tradition ever since, only faltering when the weather does not permit lighting the dead grass of the mountain ablaze. If planning on attending Japan's most famous mountain burning festival, take care to arrive early so that you can stroll along the ancient streets and visit historical sites like the magnificent Todai-ji temple.