Dondo-Yaki ( どんど焼き ) is a bonfire festival celebrated around mid-January in Japan. The festival name varies according to regions. It is also commonly known as Sagicho Festival ( 左義長 ). Such local events are less known to foreigners including myself. After years of staying in Japan, this is my first time to hear about this event and to experience it here.
In preparation for the bonfire festival, the local people build a tower made of bamboo, straws, daruma dolls and other New Year decorations. The traditional belief is that the burning of the tower will bring fortune, happiness and success in all aspects of life.
The local people also bring lots of ‘dango’ (a kind of Japanese dumpling) with them. The ‘dango’ are attached at the end of a long stick. When the decorations are all burned, the local people will then barbecue their ‘dango’ in the fire. The traditional tale related to Dondo-Yaki is that eating the ‘dango’ cooked by the fire of Dondo-Yaki will keep you healthy all year round.