Appointed as a World Heritage Site, The Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara is a beautiful shrine in its own right, its famous lantern festival provides a magical aura unlike any other shrine in Japan. Occurring only twice a year, the ceremony allows the shrine's vermilion columns, pearl walls, and hinoki cypress bark roof to be coated in an ethereal glow that shows of over 3,000 lanterns donated from across the country. Many who visit the shrine during this festival remark that it feels as if it takes place in a world removed from our own.

It's fitting that this festival takes place at Kasuga Shrine, as it is located in the ancient capital of Japan during the Heian Period. The shrine was established to pray for the happiness and peace of the nation's people. The ceremony, which has continued to this day for 800 years, displays lanterns from all over the country. The delicate Japanese paper of each lantern are inscribed with the prayers and wishes of thousands of people.

@nobu_miyaが投稿した写真 -

In old times, the lighting of the lanterns took place every night, but once Japan entered the Meiji era, nightly practices stopped to preserve fuel and manpower. Now, limited to twice a year, the festival takes place during February (at the official close of the Winter season for the Japanese calendar) and during August's obon-season. At these times, the lanterns are all lit up simultaneous in a wondrous display. One special highlight is during the obon-season festival, when an offering of court dance and music is made before the inner shrine. Many people travel from across the country just to see that.

By continuing to keep these old ceremonies and practices alive, the shrine is able to maintain a special atmosphere that makes it feel more untouched than others. Enjoy a video below that allows you a glimpse at the charming spectacle of the lanterns.

Those interested in visiting the shrine someday can find information in multiple languages here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.