Sunday, February 19, 2006
Hiburi Kamakura is one of the Ko-shogatsu festivals. As this site explains, the major O-shogatsu, or new year celebrated in December 31st, is:
primarily celebrated by court nobles, samurai, and similar people. The other is "Ko-shogatsu," the minor shogatsu held from January 15th of the lunar calendar, which is primarily performed by farmers . . . In this (hiburi kamakura) event, celebrants also brandish burning straw rice bags by gripping the end of about a one-meter long rope attached to the bag. The rice bags are set on fire by the burning firewood in the kamakura. People pray for the sound health and well-being of their family while the bag is burning. In farmer villages, many koshogatsu events were held up to 1930 or 1931. The brandishing of burning straw rice bags has continued, but only around the Kakunodate area.
What's it like? You are essentially wrangling fire. You are conscious of the burning rice bag growing lighter and lighter. You can hear and feel the fire all around you. You don't want to whirl the bag too slowly, or you will hurt yourself. You also don't want to get out of control and whirl it too quickly, or you might hurt someone else. It's exciting and a little bit dangerous. I was both relieved and a little bit sad when it is over.
Photo from John Yuehan's site. Check out his comments on Hiburi Kamakura! I first posted this article on Japundit.