11 January 2010

Preparing for Dondo Yaki

Each year the small communities in our area gather at the start of the new year to perform a ritual called dondo yaki or sometimes called saitoyaki. Essentially this is an ancient ceremony where last year's amulets, wishes written on special paper, and new year's decorations are burned, in hopes of a good new year. There is a lot of varying info amongst the community, and on the Internet so I apologize in advance if this is not the best description.
What is important is that it is yet another event where the community gets together for a common good. The first step of this is to create the giant bonfire. This was my first year as a member of the building party. I was actually there for dual purposes. First was as part of the Kaboutai (volunteer firefighter and disaster preparedness team) since we will be supervising the actual burn this coming Thursday evening, and standing by with the fire truck and pumper. The second as a male member of the community, where it is expected that all able bodies help out. We ended up with a team of just over 25 of us setting up the giant pieces of bamboo for the fire.
This sure was some hard work, and fun to hang out with the old guys in the neighborhood. I figure in twenty year's I will be the supervisor of stuff like this so I better start learning now!
On Thursday evening the whole community will come out and burn their stuff, and then roast Dango (dough balls made from a type of rice flower) balls on bamboo poles, sip Nihon-Shu (Sake), and enjoy some drinks and snacks. The kids will be running wild but everyone will stay close to the fire since it is quite cold out. This is a good time of neighborly fellowship that I look forward to!
The weather was perfect for the work to be done, cool and clear, and Mount Fuji was 'supervising' all day! Enjoy the pics, and I will post more after we do the big burn!


Hunt for Heroes!

Hey from the mountains of Japan!

Everyone knows that I am not too keen on advertising for companies in my Blog, and don't try to get people to use their heard earned money...BUT...

I need to take a few minutes to 'spread the word' about a worthwhile organization, one that really touches my heart:

SHOW OF SUPPORT.ORG is an organization dedicated to demonstrate support for our US Military by providing outdoor opportunities to those injured in the service to our country. These folks have been taking time out of their lives, and money out of their pockets, to help those who served, and were injured.

The evening news seems at times to have forgotten Iraq, Afghanistan, and other dangerous places around the world. As a result many people may not see too much about the men and women who are in harm's way each night, and their is a particular dearth of news about those who were wounded, and their lives after they come home. I see the daily casualty announcements from the DoD and I see veterans of these conflicts every day. I know that Show Of Support is positively affecting the veterans they have contact with. I have one of them in my office every day and at my house often. You can see the emotion in his eyes when he relates to me and others how much the time spent on the Hunt For Heroes has meant to him and others. These folks are making a real difference.

Here is what I am asking:

1. Please think about these brave men and women often!

2. Please take a moment to check out this organization. I will add their link below.

3. Please help to keep them in out thoughts and prayers by spreading the word about them and organizations like this. Let's not let their sacrifices be in vain.

4. Donate what you can...to anyone in need! Donate your time, as this is the most valuable thing we have to give! Give supplies, resources, and even money if you can! Help organizations like this to help others!

I will step off my pulpit now.

Thank you for listening!