Sunday, February 5, 2012


February 3 is celebrated as Setsuban (the day before of the first day of spring) here in Japan. Given that it is still very cold here in Tokyo it seems a bit early to me but still the sun was shining and it was indeed a beautiful day.

Setsuban is celebrated by throwing beans around your house and at temples and shrines to drive out evil spirits. Zojoji Temple in Tokyo is a great site for this so I decided to join in.

The landmark of Tokyo tower sits directly behind Zojoji Temple making for an interesting pairing.
The ceremony began with a processional. Golden disks were dropped on the priest as he came through the gate.

The processional even included a small group of gagaku instruments - sho, ryuteki, hichiriki.

The crowd gathered and the throwing began! It was wild. Part of the celebration is that each person is supposed to eat the same number of beans that he or she is old. I didn't try that part...

Mostly bags of peanuts, soybeans, and other unidentified objects. The crowd was very into it!

And after the first bean throwing - out came the evil demons!

And how do you chase away evil demons... with a horde of bean throwing children, of course.

And finally, after the children have finished off the last of the demons, out comes Caramel Corn Bag Man!

And more bean, peanut, and Caramel Corn Bag throwing ensued.

This all went on for quite a while to the sound of a priest shouting "Oni wa Soto, Fuku wa Uchi" (Devils out, Happiness in) into a very loud PA system. It was great fun and I was glad to have been there for it.

On the way out I stopped to take a picture of the Zojoji Bell.

And by this time a second crowd had already gathered and it was starting all over again.