January 17, 2014


どんと焼き 4“Dondo-yaki” is one of Japan’s traditional folkloric events held in local communities around January 15th on the old calendar, and it’s a kind of a bonfire event.

It is said Dondo-Yaki originated in a Shinto ritual, but this is not clear.

“Yaki” means “to burn,” and the meaning of “Donto” differs from place to place.

One theory says it comes from the expression, “Dondon moeru,” which means burning (=moeru) extremely well (=dondon).

When the day of Dondo-yaki is approaching, people in each local community start to construct a tall tower, which sometimes reaches as high as 10 meters, by using bamboo, straw and tree branches.

In the center, an air hole is made to let a fire burn well.

The tower is often ornamented with “Daruma dolls (Japanese traditional good luck charms)” and New Year’s decorations used in each family to celebrate the New Year.

The pictures show the Dondo-yaki event held in the nearby park this year by the local people in my area.The tower was beautifully and gorgeously decorated with a Daruma doll at the top and a lot of New Year’s decorations.


どんと焼き 2




どんと焼き 3When it was set on fire, a lot of smoke came up at first, but soon after that, a large fire burned straight up  and reached higher than the top of the tower, followed by the big bangs of bamboo bursting and the snapping sound of the Daruma doll getting blown off into the air. Then the tower was burned down easily. It took only 5 minutes or so. How strong fire power is!  It is said that we can live a healthy and happy life for the year when we get warm by the bonfire and gain power from the fire god.





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