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Katae Sumitsuke Tondo Festival

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Katae Sumitsuke Tondo Festival


A unique New Year’s event where participants’ faces are smeared with ink

Matsue City


About a 40-minute drive from central Matsue, facing the Sea of Japan, is the small harbor town of Mihonoseki. Once a port for the kitamaebune ships carrying goods between northern Japan and Osaka, as well as a prosperous fishing village, today Mihonoseki is a charming historical town where traditions still thrive. In the Katae Bay area, Mihonoseki locals have continued to perform a Shinto ritual known as Sumitsuke Tondo every January for the last 250 years.
Usually held after the New Year’s season, Tondoyaki is a Japanese tradition of ritually burning seasonal items such as pine decorations, shimenawa (ropes used to cordon off sacred spaces), and kakizome (the first calligraphy written during the New Year). Katae Sumitsuke Tondo is a unique event that combines the ritual of Tondoyaki with Sumitsuke, where participants paint each other’s faces with ink.



Once the portable shrines are brought out from Katae Shrine’s grounds, the faces of those who carry them are painted pure black. Local women bring ink from their homes and begin smearing it on the faces of festival goers and passersby. It is believed that the ink will protect you from illness and keep you safe when out at sea for the coming year.



The festival ends with the portable shrines taken into the sea and the Tondoyaki burning performed during the following days. The Tondoyaki ritual is exclusive to the New Year season, but a separate Sumitsuke festival also takes place in July. How about joining in on the fun and bringing home some good fortune for the New Year?





How to get there


From JR Okayama Station on the Sanyo Shinkansen, take the Yakumo Limited Express to JR Matsue Station (2 hours and a half), then board the Ichibata Bus bound for Mihonoseki Bus Terminal (45 minutes). Transfer to the Mihonoseki Community Bus Shichi-rui Line and get off at “Katae Chuo”bus stop (12 minutes). Katae Shrine is 5 minutes on foot from the bus stop.


721 Katae, Mihonoseki-cho, Matsue-shi, Shimane-ken



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