Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Day 4 - Setsubun cont'd (Asakusa)

Setsubun Senso-ji in Asakusa 3rd February, 2003 - There are two further interesting things about Setsubun at Senso-ji. The first is that following the arrival of the "years men" on to the sage surrounding the temple, there is a sudden arrival of the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichi Fukujin) who include (not in order):

Hotei (god of happiness and health)
Jurōjin (god of longevity)
Fukurokuju (god of wealth)
Biashamonten (god of warriors)
Benzaiten (goddess of art, knowledge and beauty)
Daikokuten (god of wealth and trade)
Ebisu (god of fishers and merchants)

Don't ask me why they're there... as far as I know this has nothing to do with Setsubun. What does have a lot to do with the festival is the ceremony called Mamemaki, or bean throwing. Yes - you guessed it... it involves the throwing of beans. Lots of beans. Indeed, the gods and the assembled men pelt the surrounding crowd with soy beans, which are dutifully caught (or lodged in various body parts). The purpose of catching is that you're supposed to eat the number of beans equalling your age.

In households, generally the male head of the household (adorned with demon, or oni, mask) would be chased around and attacked with soy beans whilst shouting "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" - Oni go outside, good luck come into our house... or something like that. After having had his fill of abuse, the oni would leave the house, and take his bad luck with him. Note: In at least Sapporo, the soy beans are replaced by red azuki beans.
Setsubun at Senso-ji

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