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On the Sunday before the second Monday of Jan., 33 hectares of a hill called Wakakusa-yama (seen in the distance here) 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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Wakakusa-yama hill in JanuaryWakakusa-yama hill actually has three hills. We see only the first one here.
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Dry grass ready to burn...
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Volunteer firemenThe hill set alight by 300 volunteer firemen and prefectural workers who climb up the hill.
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Bamboo torches and bamboo broomsThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire. The bamboo brooms are used to spread the fire or extinguish it. The brooms burn up by the end of the festival.
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Bamboo torches and bamboo broomsThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire. The bamboo brooms are used to spread the fire or extinguish it. The brooms burn up by the end of the festival.
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Bamboo torchesThe bamboo torches is filled with kerosene and plugged with cotton cloth. They are used to set the hill afire.
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The deer have no idea what danger they are in...
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Water bagsThe third item the volunteer firemen carry are water bags. The water bag is filled with water weighing 20 kg or so. A nozzle is also attached. It is used to extinguish the fire.
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Bon fire site
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Deer on the hill
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Volunteer firement gather before going up the hill.The hill set alight by 300 volunteer firemen from all over Nara and prefectural workers who climb up the hill.
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Volunteeer firemen and staff hike up the hills.
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Sacred torch arrives at the foot of the hill.The sacred torch is lit at Kasuga Taisha Shrine and brought to Nogami Shrine in a torch procession. It is a small shrine at the foot of the hill.
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Ceremony at Nogami Shrine
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The crowd
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Fireworks
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The sacred torch is brought.
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The sacred torch lights the bonfire at around 6 pm.You can also see three lanterns for Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Kofukuji Temple. This is a joint festival between these three temples and shrine.
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Other torches are thrown in.
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Bon fire burns
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The hill behind also starts to burn.
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Burn baby burn...The fire is put out by 9 pm. Unless you're near the fire, it can get very cold, so dress warmly for this festival.
     
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