A magical night by lantern light
Each year on February 3rd, Kasuga Taisha Shrine is illuminated by over 3,000 stone and brass lanterns housing flickering candles. This stunning winter event is a rare opportunity to see one of Nara's most sacred shrines as it must have looked almost 1,000 years ago.
- Strolling through the forest paths, lit by stone lanterns
- The daytime events, with kimono-clad dancers
How to Get There
The easiest way to access the festival is by bus or by walking.
Buses from both JR and Kintetsu Nara will stop at Kasuga Taisha Honden bus stop, which is only a short walk from the event. It is also possible to walk to the area from Kintetsu Nara station; the journey takes about 20 minutes by foot.
Many of the lanterns represent gifts given by local residents and business people. As the festival has taken place for over 800 years, many famous people have donated lanterns over the years. Some of them even bear the names of famous samurai from the Warring States period (1467–1603).
The festival of wishes
If you have a dream that you are dying to have come true, then you are in luck, as the festival is associated with the making and granting of wishes. Be sure to visit the smaller shrines off to the side of Kasuga Taisha Shrine where you can pray for your wishes to come true.
Setsubun, the magical festival
The timing of the festival coincides with an annual festival in Japan called Setsubun. Setsubun celebrates the transition from winter to spring. One of the highlights of the Setsubun festival is throwing dried beans to prevent bad fortune. You can buy dried beans and charms at the shrine.
Don't be scared of the dark
Some of the paths to the shrine can be dark in spots with fewer lanterns. Do as the locals and take a flashlight; you can buy an inexpensive one at souvenir and discount shops near the station.