Around Nara Park:
Feb.1(tue)- March 10(thr) Shika-yose (Deer Herding)
With a sound of horn deer gathers to get feeds. Horn plays the Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven.
10:00~10:15 @Tobihino Field (open field near the main approach of Kasuga Grand Shrine)
March 1(tue) – March 14(mon) Syuni-e in Todaiji Temple
Syuni-e literary means “a ritual ceremony held in February”. On behalf of all the people, monks repent sins to Kannon Bodhisattva. Some Syuni-e are held in March following the lunar calendar.
@February Hall in Todaiji Temple
Todaiji Temple’s Syuni-e is popularly known as Omizutori(Water Drawing Ritual) or Otaimatsu(Torches). Otaimatsu is especially popular among tourists for the size of torches used and the grand view of falling sparks. Torches used in Otaimatsu are about 6 meters long and weighs about 40kg. The biggest torch appearing on March 12 is about 8 meters long and weighs about 70kg.
March 1 – March 11 / 19:00~19:20 / 10 torches
March 12 / 19:30~20:15 / 11 torches
March 13 / 19:00~19:20 / 10 torches
March 14 / 18:30~18:35 / 10 torches
*Sundays and Saturdays and March 14 are crowded.
*March 12 is especially crowded. Number of people entering February Hall area will be controlled. Every year twenty to thirty thousand people come on this day, but viewing area can accommodate only three to four thousand people.
March 5(sat) – 6(sun) Nara Sweets Market
11:00~17:00 @ Nara Merchant Seed Center on Mochiidono Street
Seven sweets shops of Nara favored by locals gather at one location for your convenience. Try some and find out your favorite Nara sweets!
March 12(sat) Special Viewing of a “naked Jizo” Statue
9:00~16:00 @ Denkoji Temple
Jizo Bodhisattva Statue of Denkoji Temple is nicknamed “naked Jizo.” Most Buddhist statues are curved with some clothes on, but this statue was curved in a naked form. The statue wears actual kimono instead.
March 13(sun) Kasuga-sai Festival
Kasuga-sai Festival is the most important of all festivals held in Kasuga Grand Shrine. An imperial envoy attends this festival. Peace and welfare of the nation is prayed.
9:00~12:00 @ Kasuga Grand Shrine
*Only the rituals held along the main approach (from the second Torii gate onward) are available for public viewing. A procession of an imperial envoy, Shinto priests and others in traditional costumes is a pretty view (9:00~).
March 15(tue) Otaue-Shinji Ritual
11:00~ @ Kasuga Grand Shrine
Otaue means rice planting. In this ritual, maidens dance to a traditional rice planting song to pray for rich harvest. Maidens’ dance gestures rice planting.
March 19(sat) – 21(mon) The 19th Deer Cracker Throwing Contest
@ Wakakusa-yama Hill
This is a unique contest competing the distance of a deer cracker thrown. Among the crowds watching the contest are deer trying to eat deer crackers thrown by contestants. The winner will be awarded with deer antlers!
Entry starts 9:30~ (entry fee: 300yen)
Contest is scheduled to start 10:00~
* During contest entry into Wakakusa-yama Hill is free.
Late March to early April (while the flower is in bloom) “Samurai” Camellia
9:00~16:00 @ Denkoji Temple (fee: 300yen)
Unlike usual ones, camellias at Denkoji Temple shed their flowers petal by petal like a cherry blossom. Beautifully falling petals remind people of a samurai spirit - “be gracious in defeat.” For this people call Denkoji Temple’s camellias “samurai” camellia.
*Last year camellia bloomed around March 20.
Around Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station:
March 20(sun) –April 7(thu) Special Viewing of a Hidden Statue
9:00~17:00 @ Hokkeji Temple
A national treasure Kannon Bodhisattva statue is open for the public viewing.
March 21(mon) Nara Brush Festival
10:00~15:00 @ Sugawara Tenmangu Shrine
This is a thanksgiving festival for your old used brushes. There will be a mass for old brushes. You can buy new brushes, and you can also try a brush making at the festival.
March 23(wed) – April 7(thu) Special Viewing of a Hidden Statue
9:00~17:00 @ Kairyuouji Temple
An important cultural property Kannon Bodhisattva statue is open for the public viewing. Kairyuouji Temple is known as a temple to pray for “a safe trip abroad.”
Around Horyuji and Nishino-kyo:
March 1(tue) – April 10(sun) Special Viewing of Treasure Hall
@ Yakushiji Temple
March 1(tue) – March 21(mon) Special Viewing of the Inside of West Pagoda
11:00~11:30/ 13:00~13:30/ 15:00~15:30 @ Yakushiji Temple
What is the inside of a pagoda look like? Go to Yakushiji Temple and find it out!
March 1(tue) – March 21(mon) Special Viewing of the Inside of East Pagoda
@ Yakushiji Temple (fee: 500yen for this special viewing)
What is the inside of a pagoda look like? Go to Yakushiji Temple and find it out! East Pagoda stands since 8th century.
March 21(mon) Oeshiki Taiya Ceremony
18:00~ @ Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul) in Horyuji Temple
Oeshiki Taiya Ceremony is a ceremony held in the eve of Oeshiki, a ceremony to commemorate the founder of a Buddhist school. This is not a tourist popular ceremony, but if you go you can have a very close look at the hidden statues of this hall after the ceremony ends.
March 22(tue) – March 24(thu) Oeshiki Ceremony in Horyuji Temple
Oeshiki is a memorial service held to commemorate the founder of a Buddhist school/sect. For Horyuji Temple the founder is Prince Shotoku, also known as the father of Japanese Buddhism.
Ritual: March 22/ 13:00 ~ @ Daikodo(Great Lecture Hall)
*This year’s ritual is a grand ritual ceremony held once in every 10 years.
Special Viewing of Statues: March 22 – 24 @ Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul)
*Statues of Prince Shotoku and others enshrined in this Hall are open to the public only for these three days.
* The altar in Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul) is decorated with offertory foods. Those foods, uniquely piled up, are one of the attractions.
March 28(mon) Ominugui or Cleaning of Buddhist Statues
13:00 ~ @ Yakushiji Temple
This is a part of a preparation for upcoming Syuni-e Ceremony in Yakushiji Temple.
March 30(wed) – April 5(tue) Syuni-e in Yakushiji Temple
Syuni-e literary means “a ritual ceremony held in February”. On behalf of all the people, monks repent sins to Medicine Buddha. Some Syuni-e are held in March following the lunar calendar.
@ Yakushiji Temple
Syuni-e at Yakushiji Temple is popularly known as Hana-eshiki or Flowery Ceremony. Handmade paper flowers offered to the Yakushi (Medicine) Buddha beautifully decorate the altar.
March 30 / 19:00 ~ and 20:30 ~
March 31 – April 4 / 3:00 ~, 4:30 ~, 13:00~, 14:30 ~, 19:00 ~ and 20:30 ~
April 5 / 3:00 ~, 4:30 ~, 13:00~, 14:30 ~, 19:00 ~ (the last ritual)
Jingu (a ritual to wish for a successful completion of Syuni-e): April 5 / 18:30~
Oni-oi (Drive Away Evils) Ceremony: April 5 / 20:30 ~
* At Oni-oi Ceremony, demon figures brandish torches. Watch out for fire sparks!
Open Air Tea Ceremony: March 31 – April 5 / 10:30~15:00
Offertories of dance, music, etc: March 31 – April 4 / 13:00~
>March 31: Offertory of flower by Japanese flower arrangement master & Taiko (Japanese drum music)
>April 1: Offertory of incense & Noh dance
>April 2: Offertory of tea & Bugaku(traditional Japanese music and dance)
>April 3: Offertory of Taisho harp music & Procession of children in traditional costumes (If it rains, procession may be cancelled.)
>April 4: Homa Ritual& Procession of children in traditional costumes