Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break Catching Up - 節分 (Setsubun)

Next up - pictures from a traditional Japanese festival, called 節分 (せつぶん, setsubun).  This festival traditionally celebrates the beginning of spring, which began on February 3rd on the old Japanese calendar system.  Because the beginning of spring is an important time for Japanese people, the school organized a field trip to a local Shinto shrine to go take part in the festivities.  Here are some pictures!

Classmates and teacher walking up the stairs
Traditional garb - everywhere

The shrine itself, with all the people waiting for the ceremony to begin

Entrance to the shrine
The ceremony itself begins with a procession of famous people from the community walking through the courtyard up to the shrine.  This might include company presidents, current or ex-city councillors or sumo wrestlers.  Yes, sumo wrestlers.

Then, after some ringing of gongs and the like, the famous people come out from the temple and chase a "demon" of bad luck outside the temple.  They do this by throwing soy beans at him, and yelling 鬼は外。福は内。 (oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi) - Demon get out, luck come in!

Waiting on famous people
Scaring away the "demon"
I think it's been subdued at this point, or something...
Then all the famous people come out and throw bags of soy beans at the crowd.  People jump to catch these bags of soy beans, at which point you're supposed to eat the same number as your age.  This will bring you good luck, apparently.

Throwing the soy beans

Naturally, everyone wants to catch said soy bean bags.  Inside each bag is a small piece of paper, and if your piece of paper has a number on it, you win a prize!

Now, because I am taller than your average Japanese person, I managed to catch something like 7 or 8 bags.  None of them contained a prize - I was pretty disappointed.  Plus, dry soy beans are not that tasty...

And that was your introduction to the Japanese festival of Setsubun!

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm glad all my pestering finally paid off :D Still waiting on pics of the new apartment though ;)


Leave your comments here, if you have that much time.

You can use HTML tags like bold, italics and links if you get really bored.