Community Development Course Trainee Report: “Dondoyaki at Kodo Village”
Jan. 15 Dondoyaki (New Year Bonfire) at Kodo Village
There was a Dondoyaki* event at Kodo Village on January 15.
Before dark it was raining, but when Kenta Nakagome cheerfully shouted out “Seh-no!,” the rain stopped and we all started singing a Dondo-yaki song as the bonfire was set alight.
I had never heard this song before.
Dondoyaki is a traditional Japanese event. The Kodo members burn their broken bachi (drumsticks), worn-out fans and bamboo dance props… so the essence of performing arts infuses the flames, taking that lifeforce up into the night sky in the smoke.
After the event, we, the Community Development Course trainees, were on duty watching the fire go out. As I watched the ashes in the dark, and weakened, gentle flames, I could hear many sounds as it crackled and burned.
By Misaki Nakamura, 2014-2015 Community Development Course trainee
*Translator’s Note: Dondoyaki Explanation from Kodo eNews Issue 3
Every year on January 15th, Kodo Village holds its own Dondoyaki, a traditional Japanese fire ceremony to farewell the New Year gods back to the heavens. New Year decorations and good luck charms and amulets from the past year are burned in the fire, a tepee-like structure made of bamboo, thatching hay, and straw. At Kodo, players burn the drumsticks they can no longer use in this fire. It is said that the deity of the New Year goes back home with the smoke of Dondoyaki,, so we like to send the heart and soul forged in the drumsticks along with it. Mochi (pounded rice cakes) from the week before is also toasted over the fire and eaten to bring good health in the year ahead.