Setsubun at Kitano Tenmangū｜節分
As in many other cultures, the changing of the seasons was cause for celebration and rituals in ancient Japan. One of the festivities, Setsubun, held the day before spring in the lunar calendar, remains a popular and fun tradition to this day. Used as a way to sweep away accumulated bad luck and usher in the good, it is characterized by throwing roasted soybeans while shouting “out with the bad luck, in with the good”! The phrase in Japanese is literally “ogres outside, good luck inside” (“oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi”).
Thinking of demons or ogres as the personification of bad luck, many people celebrate by throwing beans (long associated with good luck in Japanese culture) at a member of their family wearing an oni mask. Local shrines and temples have stepped up to provide a communal location for the festival, and in Kyoto, Kitano Tenmangū is one such shrine.
Led by a procession of priests and local elders bearing plum branches, the festival begins with a ritual chant and invocation before the masked demon makes its appearance. In the style of a kyōgen play (a sort of shorter, comedic nō variant), the head priest and other participants banish the demon by throwing beans (mamemaki) at it and chasing it off the shrine stage while also scattering beans cheerfully at those gathered around the stage. Geiko and maiko from the nearby Kamishichiken geisha district also make an appearance to perform a traditional dance before the hundreds gathered. The main event for visitors to participate in is the scattering of the packets of lucky beans into the grasping crowd. Test if your luck is good enough to catch some, and don’t forget – “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!”
Things to See/Do
10:00 Setsubun-sai Ritual
13:00 Ceremony to Drive off Evil Spirits, Dance, and Bean Throwing
〒602-8386 京都府京都市 上京区馬喰町
- General Admission: Free
- Treasure Hall:
- General Admission: ¥300
- Junior High School, High School: ¥250
- Primary School: ¥150
- General Admission: 09:00 – 17:00 (07:00 – 21:00 on the 25th each month)
- Closed: No closing days