Hello everyone, and welcome to our Youth Island blog.
In this article, I will be writing about a tradition festive culture in Hiroshima known as “Tondoyaki”.
“Tondoyaki” is a traditional Japanese fire festival event in which kadomatsu and shimenawa (sacred straw ropes), and other New Year’s decorations are burned at a shrine. The purpose of this event is to send off the New Year’s gods and pray for happiness in the new year, and it is believed that old ornaments are burned in a sacred fire to ward off bad luck and misfortune for the year to come. This festival goes by different names in different regions as well, for example, it is known as “Dondoyaki” in the Tohoku region, but “Tondoyaki” in the Kansai and Chugoku regions. Tondoyaki also includes the custom of grilling and eating food at the same time the fire settles.
During Tondoyaki, it is common to burn not only New Year’s decorations such as kadomatsu and shimenawa (sacred straw rope), but also old good luck charms, such as omamori (talismans), oshafuda (votive cards), kakizome (the first calligraphy written in during the New Year), rakes, daruma dolls, noshi bags, etc.
Seeing this festival in person was truly a breathtaking experience. The entire process felt especially sacred, and the joy and energy that the people around the huge fire brought only made the experience more enjoyable. This was one of those experiences where I was able to feel the true essence of Japanese culture while also understanding what makes it unique.
This festival is usually held right after the New Year’s season, so please come to experience this part of Japanese culture. You won’t regret it.