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Night Illumination for 1300-Year-Old World Heritage Sites

Night Illumination for 1300-Year-Old World Heritage Sites
During the Nara Tōkae Festival, elaborately shaped candles are lit in 10 areas around Nara city. The photograph shows the Daigokuden (Former Imperial Audience Hall) in the remains of Heijo Palace. ©Jiji Press Photo

The Nara Tōkae Festival uses candles and lanterns to light up several world heritage treasures and other historical buildings in and around Nara Park, west Japan, and provides a “Light Up Promenade” that allows people to enjoy a stroll on summer evenings. Illuminated against the night sky, the many impressive temples and Great Buddha Hall assume quite different personalities. On summer nights from July 13 to September 29, candles throughout Nara Park, which is surrounded by eight world heritage sites, and some 3,000 stone lanterns in the grounds of the Kasugataisha Shrine portray the 1300-year-old ancient capital of Japan in a magical mood. Among the many other events that bring a mystical atmosphere to the Nara nights is the Daimonji Okuribi Festival when 108 fire grates arranged in the shape of the Chinese character 大 (dai, or “great”) are lit on Mt. Takamadoyama above the city in a prayer for world peace.