Swanica explores Japan

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of each season. The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the Spring Setsubun celebrated yearly on February 3.
It is accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called "mamemaki" (lit. bean scattering/throwing).

The ceremony starts by walking down the stairs of the Prietst and invited guests as the bean throwers at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Also, symbolically shooting away the evil spirits.

The beans are thought to purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them.
Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat soybeans, one for each year of one's life, and in some areas, one for each year of one's life, plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come. In the Heian era, a famous Buddhist monk was said to have driven away oni by throwing beans.

Getting ready to throw the packages filled with soy beans.

The packages with an additional stamp wins you a goody bag. We were out of luck. Ours just had the phoenix stamp.

The throwing of the packages.

The catching of the beans. Adriaan was well above the others, but they were difficult to catch.
There were many people , and the event turned wild, with everyone pushing and shoving to get the beans tossed from above. People fell and the police blew their whistle and they waited until everybody was standing again and they continued throwing.


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