Setsubun is a unique Japanese holiday. It’s a bean-throwing ceremony the day before the first day of spring where people cleanse the build-up of evil throughout the year by throwing soybeans and yelling “it with luck, out with demons!”. Some people even dress as demons (“oni”) to give kids something physical to throw at. It’s a fun, light-hearted festival these days. Many shrines and temples celebrate it by throwing gifts to the crowd.
Our first stop on the setsubun circuit was a local temple that I had seen advertised as having a festival and flea market. We went, but were a bit early to see anything other than the market, and Kenji didn’t want to stick around, so we headed out to the festival at Onishi and met up with the other ALTs, Sarah and Amy.
Onishi has a unique spin on the festival. Around Japan, most people say “demons out, luck in” however at Onishi, because part of the name means demon (oni, half of “oni-ishi” or demon rock), people say “demons in, luck in!”. There were many “oni” walking around, and one even had a janken (rock, paper, scissors) tournament with the kids. Bowls of noodles and hot amazake were also offered. It was a small festival, but a fun one!
The temple in Shinmachi