Photo of the Day: Setsubun at Hachiman

DSC_0118One of Japan’s more unusual (to an outsider) festivals has got to be Setsubun.

Every February 3rd, adults across the country don demon masks and scare the wits out of their children and grandchildren, whose job it is to drive the demons out by tossing dried beans at them (mame maki), and shouting, “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (Out with demons! In with luck!)

The basic idea is to bring good luck for the new year, and depending on where you live in Japan, there are a few other traditions to go along with the bean throwing, from tacking a fish head and hiragi leaves to your door; to eating a long norimaki (rice and seaweed roll), called ehomaki, while facing a specific direction (the eating is common everywhere, but the direction seems to be different). You’re also supposed to eat your age worth of beans.

In a weird way, Setsubun kind of reminds me of Easter, but only because days—even weeks—later, you’ll still find missed (jelly) beans (or hidden Easter eggs) around the house.

Anywho, back to the picture—Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine has a special bean throwing ceremony, with much pomp and circumstance. To get up close, you need to have a special flyer, which we lacked this year. It was still quite a sight, though, with all the ceremonial dress.

2 thoughts on “Photo of the Day: Setsubun at Hachiman

  1. Get a dog and he/she will eat those leftover beans! 😀 <-Reykja is our vacuum cleaner at home. ^^)b
    Looks like you got quite close, even without the flyer though, great shot!

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  2. Oh, wouldn’t a dog be nice!

    We did get pretty close for this part. Unfortunately, we were far from the rest. They had archers pretending to shoot arrows, and though I took video, you can’t see anything at all, really. 😦 Zannen!

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