Every day there is something new and interesting in Japan! There is a little community park behind my apartment and last Sunday I had a front row seat to the "new year burn". I had heard about people burning their new year decorations, but I didn't know how it all happened. Last Sunday I found out!
First thing in the morning, people started bringing their decorations (made of straw and other things) and making a big pile. I was glad to see the fire hose because it was kind of windy that day.
Next thing I knew, a priest or a monk showed up (I don't know if this is Shinto or Buddhist). Someone else brought these tree things, all the while people continued to add their new year decorations to the pile.
The next time I looked out, there was a little altar thing with fruits and vegetables on it. More decorations kept coming.
The Priest/Monk got out a green branch with white paper attached and shook it around the decorations and the crowd of people that had gathered. I had my back door closed so I couldn't hear what was going on, but I wouldn't have understood it if I could hear it, so no matter.
This child wasn't interested in the ceremony and wouldn't come when his mother waved him, so the mother had to go to him.
As the Priest/Monk knelt before the pile, a man with fire came up and lit the whole thing.
The fire seemed to be getting out of hand, so the hose came out and several men stomped on the blowing fire.
I think that was the end of the ceremony part, so these men started pouring and drinking sake.
Eventually the fire burned down and it was over. I don't really know what all this is about, but it was very interesting to see!