Burning in a good year


My sister Mayumi (mom to Lyoh and Lena, my nephew and niece who make frequent appearances on these pages) sent me this triptych of beautiful nighttime photos. I’ve translated her description here.

We went to a dondo-yaki (どんど焼き)last week for the first time. Big bonfires are lit, in which everyone throws in old New Year’s decorations, papers on which various thoughts are written in brush and ink (oshuuji), and things like that. The kids then roasted round mochi on the ends of long sticks in the flames. dondoyaki-2.jpg Being warmed by the heat of the dondo-yaki flames, and eating the mochi, is supposed to bring mubyousokusai (無病息災)- no illness, no disasters - for the rest of the year. dondoyaki-3.jpg I’m not sure if it works, but it was really nice evening, and the kids loved it.

How’s the new year going for you so far? I’m rather busy preparing for some book promotion events in the U.S. Being on the road means not much cooking unfortunately, but I’ll get back to that in a couple of weeks.

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Re: Burning in a good year

I grew up in Tokyo but never heard of a dondo yaki. Is this particular to certain prefectures and what does "dondo" mean?
I love learning about all these cultural traditions and their meanings. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny Hones | 19 January, 2011 - 07:15

Re: Burning in a good year

A fire-burning festival held around the "little New Year" or the 15th of January seems to be celebrated in various places in Japan, but under different names, Dondo yaki is just one of them it seems.

The word "dondo" either seems to mean "sacred/precious things" (toutoi mono 尊いもの) or is taken from the 'don, don' sound of taiko drums.

My sister and her kids live in Tokyo (suburbs) by the way.

Here's a page on the Japanese Wikipedia that explains these burning festivals.

maki | 20 January, 2011 - 02:30

It's been great so

It's been great so far...school and work is where I'm spending most of my time. But, the classes aren't as demanding as last semester so it's much easier for now.

Zach J. | 19 January, 2011 - 07:18

Re: Burning in a good year

When and where are you going to be in the US? Are you stopping by the Bay Area, in California?

Jackie (PhamFatale.com) | 19 January, 2011 - 09:16

Re: Burning in a good year

I won't be in California I'm afraid - my only West Coast stop is Seattle. My itinerary is in this post over on JustBento.

maki | 20 January, 2011 - 02:31

Re: Burning in a good year

wow, i've never heard of "burning in a good year", but it seems to be amazing *~*
new year for me is ok. there isn't something new, but i feel good. hopefully it will remain like that, or it will be even better :3
wish you a happy new year!

ShuShu ♥

ShuShu | 19 January, 2011 - 13:33

Re: Burning in a good year

This sounds a lot like the Up-helly-aa festival here in Shetland! Is dondoyaki traditional in Japan? It's odd how different cultures have similar new year celebrations. :)

iceandfyre | 19 January, 2011 - 23:01

Re: Burning in a good year

Indeed, humans seem to think alike no matter where they are ^_^ (See above comment for more about dondo yaki)

maki | 20 January, 2011 - 02:32

Re: Burning in a good year

Very cool, thanks for sharing. I never saw this during my time living in Japan, which is too bad as it looks like a good time. but then, for me, anything that involves fire is good for me.

It's interesting that you have ended up living in France while your sister has ended up living back in Japan. Quite the international family indeed! Does you sister still speak English, and does she teach her kids at all?

Shari | 21 January, 2011 - 06:46

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