Tondo Festival

Tondo Festival

When New Years is over, many people look forward to the Tondo matsuri when a huge pillar made of bamboo and tree branches is erected in a vacant lot.

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Children write their wishes on long rolls of paper with brush and india ink. These are for the Tondo Festival held in January or early February around most of Japan. Customs differ in each area.

On the day of the festival, the Shinto priest offers prayers for a good year. Japanese sake wine, beer and many kinds of food are offered in front of the pillar. The priest blesses  these offerings and then fire is set to the pillar of branches along with all the paper wishes inside!

Shinto priest blessing the offerings

Shinto priest blessing the offerings

The flames shot up so quickly and the pillars went up in smoke. Later, the hot coals are used to grill mochi and heat up the sake!

The Tondo on Fire!!

The Tondo on Fire!!

This year, I was allowed to take part in the festival ( or take pictures of it) at Komatsubara in Akitsu. They had erected 2 gigantic towers. About a hundred people were there, from toddlers to the aged. After the brief Shinto ceremony, women went around serving sake and snacks.

Pouring hot sake from bamboo

Pouring hot sake from bamboo

Here the hot sake is being poured from a bamboo pole! Everyone seemed to be enjoying the free drinks. They had zenzai and soft drinks for those of us who didn’t imbibe.

Mochi Maki

I know about the custom of throwing mochi (rice cakes) and candy to the crowd at a shrine festival, but this was my first time to really observe it. Little children went first. They were very excited to scramble for the goodies but the older people had them beat hands down. I got a kick out of watching the “old” people getting so excited about it!

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Sharing

Sharing

Lots of Goodies!

Lots of Goodies!

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I had a cup of sweet bean soup (zenzai) and enjoyed chatting with the women. It was an unusually warm and sunny day.. a great day for this event that is held to welcome the coming of spring!

I want to thank all the friendly people of Komatsubara for having me! It was lots of fun!!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. theeagertraveller
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 11:02:01

    Cool post. Just wondering, does the sake taste better when poured from a bamboo?

    Reply

  2. Becky nielsen
    Feb 06, 2013 @ 13:19:07

    What a great community event! Thanks for documenting this and sharing it, Leah!

    Reply

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