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Yamayaki Mountain Burning (Japan)

The Japanese have a unique custom before spring arrives (held every year on the fourth Saturday of January), they burn down mountainside of Mount Wakakusayama, a former volcano, known as yamayaki. The pictures are stunning and the festival often add fireworks for more wow factor. Various reasons are told to explain the cultural significance, including ancient land disputes and an attempt to drive away the wild boar as well as to exterminate harmful local insects.

A torch is lit with sacred fire at the Kasuga Taisha Shrine. This sacred fire is then carried down to a small shrine at the foot of the hill by a parade of Buddhist monks. The hill is ignited and the fireworks begin. The mountainside burns for 30 minutes and a fire brigade stands by the whole time. While the spectacle can be seen in many local towns, the best views are in Nara City which faces the mountain.