Home
Back

In 2023, the Yamayaki is scheduled for January 28

The Wakakusa Yamayaki is an annual festival during which the grass on the hillside of Nara's Mount Wakakusayama is set on fire. The mountain is located at the eastern end of Nara Park, and when it is set alight it can be seen throughout the city. The burning of the mountain itself is preceded by a fireworks display. The festival takes place every year on the 4th Saturday of January, but is cancelled or postponed in case of bad weather.

Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple and Kasuga Shrine are all involved with the ceremonies of the festival. The Wakakusa Yamayaki has been taking place for hundreds of years and its precise origins are unclear. One theory claims that the burning of the mountainside began during boundary conflicts between Nara's great temples, while another claims the fires were used to drive away wild boars.

The festival officially begins at noon, after which a variety of minor events take place around the base of Wakakusayama. Among them is a throwing competition of giant rice crackers (sembei) that takes place from 12:30 to 15:00. Travelers will recognize the sembei as giant versions of the rice crackers that are on sale throughout Nara Park as food for the wild deer.

Around 17:00, a procession of people involved in lighting the mountain on fire departs from the Tobino area of Kasuga Taisha towards the mountain, making a stop at the Mizuya Shrine along the way in order to light the torches. Around 17:30, the procession arrives at the base of Wakakusayama where several hundred spectators have already gathered, and a large bonfire is lit part way up the mountainside, just past the barrier restricting access to the public.

At 18:15, a firework display is held for about 15 minutes. Afterwards, the fire from the bonfire is used to set the grass on the mountainside alight, and the fire gradually spreads all across the mountain. It usually takes 30 minutes to one hour for the entire area to burn, depending on the conditions of the grass each year. When the grass is dry, the entire mountain is burnt relatively quickly, while wet conditions can result in only slow and partial burning of the grass.

Because of Wakakusayama's elevation over Nara, both the fireworks and the fire are visible throughout the city. In addition to the view from the base of the mountain, there are several other good vantage points throughout Nara Park and the city. The view can also be enjoyed from further away, for example from the former Heijo Palace site.

Getting there and around

Wakakusayama is located about a 10-15 minute walk from both Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Taisha. The mountain can also be reached on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station in about 35 minutes or from JR Nara Station in about 50 minutes. Buses run from either station as far as Kasuga Taisha (220 yen).

How to get to and around Nara

Hotels around Nara

Top rated in Nara
Budget:
    • Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park
      Budget-friendly
      Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park is situated in the Nara Park district of Nara, 3.3 km from Nara Station and 20 km from Iwafune Shrine. Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the property. Each unit is fitted with air conditioning, private bathroom and a kitchen including a fridge, microwave, stovetop and a toaster. If you would like to discover the area, hiking is possible in the surroundings. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 23 km from the lodge, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 25 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 55 km from Mountain Home Lodge in Deer Park.
      View on Booking.com
      9.3Booking.com
    • Hilo Hostel
      Mid-range
      Located less than 1 km from Nara Station, Hilo Hostel provides rooms with air conditioning in Nara. This 3-star hostel offers a shared kitchen, luggage storage space and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is set 18 km from Iwafune Shrine. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 21 km from the hostel, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 22 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 53 km from Hilo Hostel.
      View on Booking.com
      9.2Booking.com
    • NARA Visitor Center and Inn
      Budget-friendly
      The Nara Visitor Center and Inn is situated in the heart of Nara, just a 3-minute walk from Kofuku-ji Temple and Naramachi. The Todai-ji Temple and Deer Park are a 10-minute stroll away, while Nara Station on the Kintetsu Line is a 7-minute walk. JR Nara Station is 14-minutes away on foot. All guest rooms feature air conditioning and heating, and are equipped with a fridge and flat-screen TV. Japanese samue nightwear are available to all staying guests. Some units come equipped with an en suite bathroom with a shower, while some Japanese-style rooms come with an en suite shower. Japanese-style rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. The property offers free WiFi access and a 24-hour front desk. Luggage storage is available. There is a public bath on site, where guests will find free toiletries and hairdryers. A coin launderette, a shared kitchen and free-use internet PCs are offered on site. The on-site tourist information desk offers information in English, Chinese and Korean. Services offered at the desk include transport and meal tickets at a discount, currency exchange, bike hire at a charge, cultural activities at an additional charge, such as Japanese calligraphy lessons, and tour arrangements. Some cultural activities such as origami folding are offered free of charge.
      View on Booking.com
      9.0Booking.com
    • Yuzan Guesthouse
      Budget-friendly
      Conveniently located a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station and a 8-minute walk from JR Nara Station, Yuzan Guest House Annex offers cosy accommodation with a shared kitchen. Free WiFi access is available throughout the property. Each room is simply decorated and comes with air conditioning and heating facilities. Guests can choose to stay in Japanese-style rooms featuring tatami (woven-straw) floor and futon bedding. Bathroom facilities are shared. At Guest House Yuzan Annex you will find a small garden, a terrace and a shared lounge. Free luggage storage is also available upon request. Guests can make a 10-minute stroll to the Nara Park, located in the city central area. Todaiji Temple and Heijo Palace are both a 10-minute drive away while Kansai International Airport can be reached with a 80-minute drive. Meals are not served on site.
      View on Booking.com
      9.0Booking.com
    • Hotel Rokune
      Mid-range
      Located in Nara, Hotel Rokune provides 3-star accommodation with private balconies. Featuring a terrace, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property is non-smoking and is set 700 metres from Nara Station. All units are equipped with a fridge, microwave, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a desk. At the hotel every room is equipped with bed linen and towels. Hotel Rokune offers 3-star accommodation with a hot tub. Iwafune Shrine is 17 km from the accommodation, while Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 21 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 52 km from Hotel Rokune.
      View on Booking.com
      8.9Booking.com
    • SLOW HOUSE NARA
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, SLOW HOUSE NARA is located in Nara, 1.3 km from Nara Station and 19 km from Iwafune Shrine. The 2-star guest house has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen and luggage storage space for guests. At the guest house, each room comes with a desk. At SLOW HOUSE NARA every room is equipped with bed linen and towels. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 22 km from the accommodation, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 23 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 54 km from SLOW HOUSE NARA.
      View on Booking.com
      8.9Booking.com
    • Hotel Naranohamori
      Mid-range
      Featuring 3-star accommodation, Hotel Naranohamori is situated in Nara, 19 km from Iwafune Shrine and 22 km from Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium. The 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is set 2 km from Nara Station. The units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. At Hotel Naranohamori all rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 23 km from the accommodation, while Shijonawate City Museum of History and Folklore is 23 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 54 km from Hotel Naranohamori.
      View on Booking.com
      8.8Booking.com
    • The Deer Park Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Located within Nara Park, The Deer Park Inn offers free Wi-Fi throughout the property and a chance to feed the many deer roaming around the park. Kintesunara Train Station is an 8-minute taxi ride away. Rooms feature air conditioning/heating and free toiletries. Bathrooms and toilets are shared with other guests. Meals are not served on the property, but guests can use the communal kitchen to prepare their own meals. Luggage storage is available for free and a coin launderette is available at a surcharge. Kasuga Taisha Shrine is located a 7-minute walk away, while the Todaiji Temple is located within a 15-minute walk from the property. Guests can also take a 13-minute walk to access the Nara National Museum or a 17-minute walk to see the beautiful Isuien Garden.
      View on Booking.com
      8.8Booking.com
    • Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Nara, 2 km from Nara Station, Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi offers accommodation with a garden, private parking, a shared lounge and a restaurant. Offering a bar, the property is located within 20 km of Iwafune Shrine. The accommodation features a shared kitchen and luggage storage space for guests. With a shared bathroom fitted with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the guest house also feature free WiFi, while some rooms also feature a balcony. At Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi, the rooms are equipped with air conditioning and a safety deposit box. The accommodation offers a continental or American breakfast. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi. Higashiosaka Hanazono Rugby Stadium is 23 km from the guest house, while Nippon Christ Kyodan Shijonawate Church is 24 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 55 km from Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi.
      View on Booking.com
      8.8Booking.com
    • Guesthouse Nara Komachi
      Budget-friendly
      Just a 5-minute walk from JR Nara Station, Guesthouse Nara Komachi features affordable rooms with free Wi-Fi and a private bathroom with shower. The non-smoking hostel offers rental bicycles. Nara Komachi Guesthouse offers Japanese-style rooms and Western rooms. The rooms are simple, yet comfortable, and come with an 32-inch LCD TV and bathroom amenities. Facilities at Komachi Nara include a lounge with TV, a shared kitchen and an information corner with guide books and maps. The computer corner offers free use of headsets. Guesthouse Nara Komachi is a 15-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station. Convenience stores, a post office and banks can be found within a 5-minute walk. No meals are served.
      View on Booking.com
      8.6Booking.com