On the 15th of January, Japanese gather to burn their "shimenawa"（しめ縄）New Year's decorations.
The decoration at right is typical of Kyoto New Year's decorations.
This ceremony is called Dondoyaki, and also serves as a prayer for a year with no illness, no death, and no fire.
In large cities, it is mostly a thing of the past. However, on the outskirts of many cities and in the countryside the ceremony is still held.
On the lunar calendar, the 15th is "small New Year's"（小正月). On this day, neighbors gather and make a bonfire.
Into this fire go the decorations. In some areas, works of calligraphy are also added.
People drink sake, shoot the breeze - and pray for a year of health.
The ashes are then used as fertilizer.
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Saturday, January 16, 2010