Today is Setsubun (節分) in Japan. This photo is from the Setsubun bean-throwing festivities at nearly 1,300 year-old Rinnoji (輪王寺) in Nikko. Before the bean throwing, a procession marched to the temple carrying flags, blowing horns, and performing other ritualistic behaviors (as snow fell on us all). This guy did a little sword work in front of the temple, perhaps exercising some demons in the process.
Today is Setsubun (節分) in Japan. Even if you aren’t in Japan, if you happen to run into a Japanese person, today is a good day to say “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” (out with the devils, in with the luck) to them.
Today’s photo is from the Setsubun bean-throwing festivities at Rinnoji in Nikko. They threw treats and prizes instead of beans. We were handed handfuls of beans as we headed out after though.
There were several famous actors who tossed the prizes. In this photo, for instance, you can see Nakayama Jin (中山 仁) and Otonashi Mikiko (音無 美紀子), whose names are displayed beneath them.
February 3 is a special day in Japan, not technically a holiday, but special nonetheless. Setsubun (節分) coincides with the Chinese New Year. It has something to do with the beginning of Spring, but Nikko looked (and felt, as it was below freezing) anything but Springish when I took this photo during Setsubun 2010 at Rinnoji Temple.
This part of the ceremony had nothing to do with bean throwing. The shells some of the participants were blowing made the coolest sound. The beans were thrown later. Actually, beans were just handed out and prizes were thrown. We won a bunch of stuff, including a night at one of Nikko’s hotels including meals. Woohoo!
The stone steps between Shinkyo and Rinnoji were amazing in the snow and completely devoid of people.
I could have sat staring at the three, giant, gold-lacquered, wooden statues of Amida, Senju-Kannon (“Kannon with a thousand arms”), and Bato-Kannon (“Kannon with a horse head”) all day were it not for the fact that it was extremely cold so we wanted to keep moving as much as possible. The place is probably crawling with tourists on a normal day, but it was quite peaceful as we were the only ones enjoying the view.
Later the next day (February 3) we participated in a setsubun festival of sorts in front of the Sanbutsudo where the above three Buddha are housed. Japanese celebrities and priests from various temples and shrines in Nikko tossed all sorts of things to the crowd as you can see in the short video I took below. We stood in the back and ended up catching “only” a kit-kat and two balls. We redeemed the balls for prizes (a bag of “goodies,” including laundry detergent and saran wrap, and a gift certificate for a night and two meals for two at a Nikko hotel).
You can hear the priest tell the people to be careful to not cause injury near the end of the video. It did get a little crazy. Some people came away with giant bags of snacks, prizes, and candy. It was sort of like an efficient trick-or-treating session, without all of the walking.