Yamayaki ( burning mountainous herbs)

The event that they put fire the herbs which cover Mt. Wakakusa(342m),
located in Nara city, was held on January 28.

It is called Yamayaki in Japanese.

It started with some fireworks which are hardly seen in winter here in Japan.

It was far away from where I was, so the sound of fireworks reached me slightly later than the works.

When I lived closer to the mountain, central city in Nara, it used to be held on January 15, the end of the term of marking New Year. I think that it was reasonable because many New Year ornaments made of straws which were taken off were burned together.

New Year's ornament called shimenawa

This event, Yamayaki, began in ancient days, more than 1,000 years ago.

Later, after some interval, when it restarted they said several theories about the origin of this custom; to set a boundary for property of temples , to settle down the souls of ancient tomb on the mountain and so on.

Either way, as consequence the mountain comes to have its rejuvenation, and shows a feature fitting the name Mt. Wakakusa(若草 若=youth 草=herb) shortly after this event.

And above all, I like to see burning mountain under proper security.

Fire, as primitive element ,let people be evocative somehow and brings sacramental feeling.

taken on New Year's day in a shrine

 Seeing  the flaming mountain range I remembered a tanka written by Chikashi Koizumi(1886~1924).

みんなみの嶺岡山の焼くる火のこよひも赤く見えにけるかも   古泉千樫

Ah, Flames

that is set ablaze

on the Mt. Mineoka

at the South

are seen tonight brightly again

Chikashi raised in Chiba prefecture and later he went to Tokyo and with other members contributed to establish "Araragi school"(アララギ派)which became to be the main stream of genre of tanka during the last hundred years.

In this tanka, young Chikashi is gazing at the flame on the mountain which seems to be a boundary between Chiba and Tokyo, and sings as a tanka with orthodox method for expressing his emotion not subjectively but with particles for exclamation.

another fire in my room

19 件のコメント:

Jen さんのコメント...

Did you take the pictures of the fireworks? They are beautiful! What an extraordinary event--I wonder if you can smell the herbs burning. Thank you for sharing this special occasion and the tanka.

cosmos さんのコメント...



Celeste さんのコメント...

Salut Haricot,
tout d'abord une belle et heureuse année.
Nous sommes tous égaux mais avec des traditions différentes, il faut les garder car elle sont le reflet de ce que nous sommes.

À bientôt
Bon weekend Celeste

今、この一瞬を さんのコメント...




stardust さんのコメント...

What a timely post, haricot! I like this post better than newspaper articles. I’ve had a feeling that something is wrong in the images where the fireworks display and the burning mountain together. Actually fireworks first and much later the burning mountain comes.

Yamayaki is always spectacular to see. When my children were young, I would go close to it. Later I found seeing it from the distance is more spectacular though I can’t hear the sound or feel the heat and the power like on the spot.

I think Yamayaki conducted on January 15th is more reasonable as you wrote. Another such example is Coming of Age Day, which was changed from January 15th to the second Monday in January according to the Happy Monday System. “Genpuku” was celebrated on “koshogatsu”, Jan. 15th, since the ancient times, when a young prince put on a new hairstyle and new robes to mark his pass into adulthood.


snowwhite さんのコメント...

I love the festivals where they use fire. The fire evokes me some feelings of awe and understand why fire has been used in many festivals since ancient times.

As you said, I also think it is not a good idea that the Japanese government moved the several national holidays to favorable days to increase the number of holidays. Each day had some significant meaning.

My favorite theory why this festival started is that a ghost haunted around a small tomb on the top of the mountain and scared people. To purify the mountain and comfort the soul of the ghost, they started the mountain burning festival. Decades ago, boundary issue was the main stream, but Todai-ji temple, Kofuku-ji temple and Kasuga Grand Shrine did not like this theory. Now it is not so much mentioned. I think they thought the image was not so good if they had fought against each other over boundary issue.

I wanted to see this festival close to the mountain. But I could not go, so I am glad to see this festival on your blog. Thanks a lot!!


In My Wild Eden さんのコメント...

What a wonderful post! I too would want to see it in the distance. What an amazing sight to see it all on fire.

Dave King さんのコメント...

Bright, beautiful - and dangerous?

sarah さんのコメント...

To tell the truth, I went Mt.Wakakusa on that day. I could see the flame at the first row. So I could not see the whole mountain fire but the force of fire,effort of people etc I could see at hand.
I knew the history of "Yamayaki". I thought again Nara is great.

haricot さんのコメント...


Thank you very much for your kind comment. Although it was a little far for smelling the burning herbs,
in the darkness I felt as if I smelled it.




Tout a fait! Les coutumes sont differents un et l'autre, et ca me fait interessant pour les savoir.
Nous sommes egaux mais vous etez tres creatif!

今 この一瞬を



Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment as usual.
On the day of Comming Age, I agree with you. Every event have its original signification, as you wrote.


Thank you very much.
I remembered your post that you wrote last year. Your photo near Daigokuden was so beautiful.
To take pictures of fireworks was difficult for me.

In my Wild Eden

Thank you for revisiting my blog.
I like to see it in the distance, while I want to see at hand next time.


Thank you very much for your interesting comment. Yes, I think the firemen would be tense during the event.


Oh, you and cosmos san went to see the event on the foot of the mountain! It must be exciting to see there. I'll try next time.

Red Rose. さんのコメント...




Ekaterina Trayt さんのコメント...

Wow, burning the mountain! I guess if I happened to see it without knowing what is going on, I'd be a bit scared :)

haricot さんのコメント...

Red Rose
Red Roseさんもお体に気をつけてお過ごしください。


I understand your feeling. The first experience of conflagration in a wood was of a movie, and still it scared me a lot.
I guess there would be a dangerous aspect on this event.

demie さんのコメント...

It looks absolutely marvelous...

haricot さんのコメント...


I appreciate your kind comment.

ruma さんのコメント...

Hello, haricot.

 Lovely your works, full of JOY.

 I am enlightened by your splendid works.
 Thank you for showing your heartwarming world.

 The prayer for all peace.

Jenny Woolf さんのコメント...

I have heard before about this interesting custom. I have to say it sounds rather dangerous to me, but I am sure it is kept well under control.

The picture of the firework reminded me very much of a dandelion head, when the seeds are ready to fly away in the wind.

haricot さんのコメント...


Thank you for your visit and comment. It's heartwarming!

Thank you for such a cute comment.
Actually the fireworks were much more gorgeous, but my skill made them like dandelions, though your comment made my heard warm.

Sy さんのコメント...

fascinating stuff!!