A Japanese Event/Festival in January – Sagicho 「左義長」

Sagicho 「左義長」- A Fire Festival

どんど焼きの写真
Don do yaki

In my previous blog I was talking about the Japanese new year’s decorations and has mentioned how to dispose them.

A fire festival called “Sagicho”「左義長(さぎちょう)」 is an event held on 7th or 15th of January to burn the Japanese new year’s decorations such as a Kadomatsu, a Shime kazari and cook a Kagami mochi to eat. While looking at its flame raising up to a sky showing appreciation and sending the year God off to heaven.

This festival sometimes called “Don do yaki”「どんど焼き」, Ton do yaki”「とんど焼き」 and “Onibi yaki”「鬼火焚き」. It depends on the local areas how to call it.

“Don do yaki”「どんど焼き」is held at a temple or a shrine nationwide from Hokkaido to Okinawa. “Onibi yaki”「鬼火焚き」is called in Kyusyu. Ton do yaki”「とんど焼き」is called in Hiroshima.

It has been said that taking the ash ,which is left over after burning, to home and sprinkling around their house would remove any illness in that year.

The origin

巨大なとんど 茅原大とんど、左義長の写真
A massive don do yaki at a shrine

There are various theories about its origin but it has been thought that it came from Heian era.

At the east garden of the “Seiryouden” 清涼殿(せいりょうでん)at the imperial court, tied three bamboos together and made them stand. And then put strip of fancy papers (Tanzaku・短冊) and folding fans (sensu・扇子) on the top of it. While burning them people were dancing and singing. This event was called “Sagicho”「左義長(さぎちょう)」.

It has been said that receiving the fire it makes us younger, burning mochi and eating them gets us hardly ill, holding a “kakizome/書き初め” ( Kakizome” is calligraphy for the first time in the year) over it and if it floats higher, then our hand writing skill would be improved etc.

This event became a private event. It has became the fire festival which is held around 14th of January.

書き初めする着物姿の女性8の写真
A image of the Kakizome/書き初め

Hope this interests you. Happy New Year!

About mkchatinjapanese

I am a native Japanese who teaches Japanese to non-Japanese speaker as a private tutor. Teach from a beginner to Intermediate level. location in London.
This entry was posted in A Japanese Slang, Japanese custom, JAPANESE EVENTS, Japanese Language, JAPANESE LIFE, JAPANESE SOCIETY and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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