Setsubun 節分 - The Bean Throwing Festival - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Setsubun 節分 - The Bean Throwing Festival

Friday the 3rd of February is considered the last day of winter here in Japan, and this day is celebrated with a so-called Bean Throwing Festival, or Setsubun in Japanese. It was something we just couldn't miss, so Yuma and me went on a visit to Ken's dorm where they were going to have a small Setsubun-celebration for the students living there.
 One of the special things about Setsubun is that some grown-ups wear masks picturing oni (鬼), a type of demon or devil typically appearing in Japanese folklore, so that the kids can "drive away" these evil creatures by throwing beans at them.. Of course we had to try it out too! Haha:)
Me, Yuma and Ken wearing devil masks, prepared to be thrown beans at in the shrine
But before going out it was time for some traditional Setsubun food: the “lucky direction roll” Eho-maki (恵方巻き). This is basically a role of sushi (makizushi), which can grant you a wish if you eat it while facing in a compass direction determined by the year’s zodiac. In addition to this, you are supposed to keep your eyes shot and not make any noise while you are eating it.
Eating Eho-maki, all facing in the same direction
 After having eaten, Yuma, Ken and me went to the Yoshida Jinja-shrine (吉田神社) to take a closer look at the celebration itself. Yoshida This shrine dates back to the Heian period, or more precisely to the year 859, when it was founded by the Fujiwara-clan. For the celebration of Setsubun nowadays, the bonfire in Yoshida Jinja is apparently the biggest in Kyoto. No wonder why there are so many people visiting this shrine.. Anyway, here are some pictures from the event:
The firemen keeping watch over the bonfire
Yuma wearing an oni-mask with the bonfire and the crowd in the background.
The huge red tori and the bonfire
Ken wearing his oni-mask too

Without the demon masks.
You can buy all sorts of dried food at the shrine. What about some dried squid? 
More dried food 
Japanese style barbecue!?
No Japanese festival without some snack for sale.. :)
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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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  1. Looks like you had a good time =) Gotta love the snack booths at Japanese festivals. And I must say, that's a massive bonfire they've got going there!

  2. It was fun! Although none of the kids threw beans at us like we had hoped.. Haha:) A lot of people though, you basically have to stand in line just for the chance to see the bonfire! But we had a good time.
    And yeah, there's no Japanese festival without takoyaki! xD


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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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