Setsubun 2018

A red devil terrorises the locals at Rozanji Temple in Kyoto

It seems that we have only just finished Oshogatsu with its new year shrine visits, and Kyoto is still cold enough to feel as if it’s mid-winter, yet here we are already on the brink of Setsubun and looking forward to the prospect of spring. The exorcism of demons at the darkest time of year is done in ritual fashion and celebratory fashion, featuring the throwing of beans.

Green Shinto has covered this joyous occasion on several occasions in previous years. An explanation of why beans are used to throw at demons can be found here. For several photos of the many events that take place in Kyoto, see here. A photo account of the religious ritual at Shimogamo Jinja can be seen here.  Food and festivities at Yasaka Jinja in Kyoto are covered here. Some interesting background facts can be found here. For Lafcadio Hearn’s detailed description of the festivities at Matsue in 1891, see here.

However and wherever you care to celebrate the occasion, a happy Setsubun to you!

Maiko from nearby Gion leave the stage after participating in the bean-throwing at Yasaka Jinja in Kyoto

Shops at busy in the days before Setsubun selling packets of beans for families to use at home and for someone to play the demon

At Kyoto’s Heian Jingu beans are thrown to the crowd and catching them brings good fortune

First Setsubun Kushida Jinja.jpg At Kushida Jinja during Setsubun, one passes through Otafuku’s mouth in order to receive blessings for the next year.

The spectacular Setsubun ritual at Shogo-in carried out by yamabushi (mountain ascetics) with a fire ceremony in which prayers are ritually burnt and sent up to heaven

Purifying the four directions at Setsubun with a symbolic arrow fired into the air

Parade of the demons at Rozanji prior to their banishment by beans


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