Setsubun, the Bean Throwing Festival

mamemaki

Japan has a lot of odd festivals. There are memorial services for worn-out pins, penis festivals, and ceremonial fish cuttings, but for pure “Idontgetitness,” I’d have to say that Setsubun is the grand champion. People walk around their houses shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi” (Devils out! Good luck in) and throw beans, which are meant to scare the devils.
I understand how a long time ago pins and needles were valuable possessions and a person might want to say goodbye to some sewing equipment they had used for a long time, or that it’s okay to continue with a penis festival because it now serves to promote awareness of STDS, but I just can’t imagine otherwise rational human beings throwing beans and shouting at imaginary devils.
Anyway, the festival is pretty interesting to see, and is held on February 3 every year (unfortunately, this year it’s on a Tuesday). There are events at many of the major temples in Tokyo, but the most interesting one is probably Zozoji in Minato Ward, because a lot of celebrities come to throw beans to the people.
This photo is of the festivities as Asakusa’s Sensoji, which gets only the most minor celebrities.
For more information, check out:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/entertainment/festivals.html (English)
http://matsuri.enjoytokyo.jp/setsubun/event.html (Much better, but in Japanese only)

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