Setsubun at Osu Kannon
Firstly, Kung Hei Fat Choi! to those who celebrate the Lunar New Year. Whilst here in Japan Spring based on the lunar calendar is welcomed by celebrating Setsubun. Last Sunday the 3rd of February, according to the lunar calendar, marked the last day of winter and beginning of spring. I chose to watch the parade and celebration at the Osu Kannon temple. It kicked off with a Takarabune Dai-gyoretsu, which is a parade of the seven gods (Shichifukujin) and the demons (oni), then followed by the throwing of roasted soybeans (mamemaki.)
This was the first parade I’ve seen that went through the shopping mall, and I chose to wait for it there as it was quite cold outside that day. Then off they went through to the temple for the mamemaki shouting “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi” This is to ward off demons and welcome good luck into the homes.
Several groups came in to throw beans towards the adoring crowds waiting cheerfully to catch the beans.
Then the gods came and did their share of mamemaki.
After which, the main event of the afternoon – when the god of happiness (Fuku no kami), laughing his head off, beats the oni hence the good triumphs over the bad.
Setsubun is celebrated similarly in buddhist temples all over the world. Inherited from the Chinese custom and have been adopted since the eight century here in Japan, as part of the Spring festivals. Overall, I felt it was quite ritualistic in nature, as do any festivals. Since the beginning of the year I have visited temples around Nagoya and found that the Japanese community take their cleansing and renewal rituals at the beginning of the year seriously. It gets very crowded. Here are some of my people-watching photos of the day.
I wish you all had a great start to your spring.