Japan's most famous temple, with the world's oldest wooden buildings (over 1,300 years old), is also the country's first World Heritage Site. Also called Ikaruga-dera, the temple is the headquarters of the Shotoku-shu Buddhist Sect founded by Shotoku Taishi.
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On the Sunday before the second Monday of Jan., 33 hectares of a hill called Wakakusa-yama next to Nara Park is burned at night. The burning hill looks more spectacular from afar, but we went up close.
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Every evening during March 1-14, Todaiji temple priests carry torches on the balcony of Nigatsu-do Hall. Sparks falling from the torches bring good health. Tripods are not allowed in the viewing area. On March 12, the festival climaxes with sacred water drawn from a spring. However, there is not much to see for the average tourist. Only huge crowds of pilgrims that day. Also see the video at YouTube.
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In 2010, Nara celebrated the 1300th anniversary of Heijo-kyo Capital with the Heijo Palace site serving as the main venue. Various events, entertainment, and activities were offered for almost free. Also see my video at YouTube. And another one here.
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