Tondo Matsuri

Ever wonder what everyone does with all those New Year arrows, rakes, daruma and that they buy at shrines every year?

Here in Hiroshima, after a year of luck-giving, they go up in flames on spectacular bonfires around the second weekend of January, at what is known as tondo.

If you visited any shrines over the New Year holiday, you probably noticed that people making their way to shrines for their hatsumode visit carrying the previous years decorative talismans and offerings. These are placed in large piles, cardboard boxes or skips within the shrine grounds before praying and buying the new year’s charms and votive goods. A couple of weeks after new year, at ko-shogatsu – literally  “small new year”- which is celebrated at the lunar new year,  they are blessed and burnt on bonfires that range from just over head-height to giant towers as high as a house.

amulets to be burned at sorasaya tondo

Tondo matsuri are held in the grounds of many of the larger shrines and in public spaces, such as school grounds and along Hiroshima’s wide river banks where the local community gather and roast mochi rice cakes and warm sake over the flames. Tondo is usually held on the 2nd or 3rd weekend of January, generally on the weekend closest to January 15.



A video posted by sei (@seichan0) on

As mentioned above, the fires can be quite large and it is really quite a sight when the bamboo constructions packed with wooden and paper votive goods catch alight, and the crackling and popping sounds can be heard from quite far away. Although your clothes may smell of burnt offerings when you leave, remember the smoke is supposed to provide good luck. There are no fees to watch or take part in these events, but a donation to the shrine putting on the event is appreciated.

Some festival-goers bring their own mochi to roast, but you are likely to be given some to roast if you go there empty handed. Some shrines pass warm sake round, others offer zenzai sweet bean soup – a real treat with roasted mochi cakes on a cold, winter day.


Where to go

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Here are some places where you can catch a tondo matsuri, without turning too many heads. The list is by no means exhaustive, and there are held in many shrines and other places, just follow the smoke!

Kintai Bridge, Iwakuni

January 8, 2024 13:00-15:00

tondo at kintai bridge


Sorasaya-jinja Shrine

January 14, 2024 from around 1pm

Not far from the Peace Park, across the river from the Family Pool, Sorasaya Shrine’s tondo in the park next to the shrine in Honkawa-cho has huge bonfire and is a family-friendly event where kids can play on the playground as well as watch the spectacle.

See more photos from Sorasaya Shrine Tondo

Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

January 14, 2024 from 15:00

©Peter Eberhardt

For such an important shrine, Itsukushima’s tondo is rather low key, held on Mikasa Beach next to the floating torii gate between the tides. Rather than the elaborate bamboo constructions set ablaze in other places, Itsukushima just seems to set light to a pile of cardboard boxes. It is also quite surprising that, this being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they have now qualms about burning everything, plastic and all. More photos from Itsukushima’s tondo here.



Several tondo matsuri are held at the string of shrines, just north of Hiroshima Shinkansen Station. Always a nice walk, it can be fun to do a tour of the fires.


Tōshō-gū Shrine

January 13, 2023 from 11:00 to 12:00


Tsuruhane-jinja Shrine, Futaba-no-sato

January 14, 2024 from 11:00 to 12:00

tsuruhane jinja shrine


Nigitsu-jinja Shrine, Futaba-no-sato
Not open to outsiders in 2024

January 13, 2023 from 18:30

Tondo bonfire festival at Nigitsu Shrine in Futaba-no-sato in Hiroshima Japan


Waseda-jinja Shrine, Ushita

January 14 2024 from 18:00

This is our local shrine in Ushita. Tondo here is quite a small affair, but pretty lively!


Gokoku-jinja Shrine

January 15 2024 from 10:00

This huge tondo is held at Hiroshima Gokoku-jinja Shrine next to Hiroshima Castle, tondo is always held on January 15, no matter what day of the week that falls on, and no matter the weather. There is also quite a lively atmosphere  as a sizable crowd usually gathers and you are pretty close to popping of bamboo. The guys in charge of keeping the fire under control wear some pretty cool gear here.

Saikoku-ji Temple 

Sanba Tondo Shinmei Festival, Onomichi

January 14, 2024 from 12:30-16:00

Sanba Shinmei Tondo Festival which has been held since the 17th century and is designated as a folk cultural asset of Onomichi city.

sanba tondo

The festival is held on the grounds of Sanba Elementary School.



Writing about Hiroshima for over twenty years. Co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999 and founded the sustainability-focused InboundAmbassador business in 2019. Monthly CleanUp and Seeking Sustainability event organizer, guide workshop facilitator, online content creator and tourism destination consultant. Passionate about promoting solutions in Japan for people and the planet.