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This month's folk festivals

Dondo Yaki (Fire Festival)

Dondo Yaki (Fire Festival)

Dondo Yaki, also called Dondon Yaki, takes place either on January 15 or 16 throughout Japan. It's a Lunar New Year's event to pray for good fortune and a bountiful harvest by collecting and burning the ornaments that decorated houses during the New Year such as Kadomatsu or pine boughs, Shimenawa or sacred rice-straw ropes, and other charms. People have long believed local lore associated with this fire festival. Here are two examples. You don't catch a cold if you get near the fire or eat rice cakes roasted by the fire. Your calligraphic skills will improve if your first writing of the New Year goes up high in the air after you threw it in the fire.

Dondon Yaki as a Buddhist rite at Shorinzan Darumaji Temple

When Jan. 15 (Sat.) 11:00
Where Shorinzan Darumaji Temple in Takasaki MAP
Contact 027-322-8800

Dondo Yaki in Kawaba-mura

When Jan. 16 (Sun.) 12:00 Noon
Where Monzen District of Kawaba-mura
Contact 0278-52-2019

Other events

Maebashi Hatsuichi Matsuri (First Sale of Daruma dolls of the New Year in Maebashi)

People bring their old Daruma dolls from the past year and burn them for consolation. A Mikoshi or portable shrine will be carried around town accompanied by drummers. Approx. 1,500 Daruma doll stalls will be placed alongside the Route 50 in Honmachi that draws hundreds of shoppers every year.

When Jan. 9 (Sun.)
Where Alongside Route 50 on Honmachidori Ave. & the shopping streets in central Maebashi MAP
Contact 027-235-2211

Shorinzan Nanakusa Taisai

Known as the first Daruma doll sale of the New Year at Shorinzan Darumaji Temple, where the Daruma dolls were born, this is an annual event that regularly attract 210,000 people.

When January 6 (Thurs.) and 7 (Fri.)
Where Shorinzan Darumaji Temple
296 Hanadaka-machi, Takasaki MAP
Contact 027-322-8800

Isesaki Hatsuichi & Joshu Yakimansai

Isesaki Hatsuichi & Joshu Yakimansai

More than 200 stalls, mainly for Daruma dolls, will be placed at Isesaki Hatsuichi. As part of the Hatsuichi festivities, Joshu Yakimansai or Gunma Yakimanju Festival will be held at Isesaki Shrine. This is a Shinto ritual, in which four very large yakimanju, 55cm in diameter, will be roasted and offered. At a separate venue, there is another yakimanju event, in which the first 250 people will get to roast yakimanju with sweet bean paste themselves.

When Jan. 11 (Tue.) Hatsuichi: 12:00 - 21:30
Joshu Yakimansai 14:00
Do-it-yourself yakimanju event: 16:00 (For the first 250 people)
Where Hatsuichi Honmachidori Avenue and its vicinity MAP
Joshu Yakimansai at Isesaki Shrine (21-1 Honmachi, Isesaki) MAP
Contact 0270-24-5111

Asama Kogen (Highland) Winter Festival

The festival takes the visitors into the fantasy world of snow and ice. It offers truly a variety of events associated with snow, ice, and winter sports you can think of. Enjoy the winter wonderland in Tsumagoi.

When Jan. 29 (Sat.) and 30 (Sun.)
Where Prince Land Avenue MAP
Contact 0279-86-5077

Kusatsu Snow & Spa Resort Festival

Kusatsu Snow & Spa Resort Festival

The 2-day festival offers a plenty of fun events, both for children and grownups.

When Oshiruko or roasted rice cakes in sweet bean soup and hot sake giveaway
Jan. 29 (Sat.) and 30(Sun.) 15:00
Kids' athletic meet on the snow (For 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders of elementary school)
& Free admission to the Kid's Park
Jan. 29 (Sat.) 13:00
Raffle: Jan. 30 (Sun.) 13:00
Where 158 Shirane Kokuyurin, Ooaza Kusatsu, Kusatsu-machi MAP
Contact 0279-88-8111

Click the address below to open the list of ski resorts in Gunma in PDF file. (PDF/352KB)