Last week-end it was Setsubun here in Japan, and in Kyoto, there are many shrines and temples that celebrate this festivals. One such shrine is the Yoshida Shrine (吉田神社) on Mount Yoshida here in Kyoto. The Setsubun festival is held from the 2nd, to the 4th of February each year and this year it fell on a weekend. Yoshida shrine is located next to the famous Kyoto University. From the main street (Higashi-oji dori) to the steps leading to the shrine, roughly about 500 meters, the street is lined with stalls selling traditional foods and trinkets. The main festival starts at 6.00pm on the 2nd and you’ll see Oni (鬼) walking along the approach to the shrine screaming and scaring kids. They will also pose with you for a picture. When the actual ceremony starts its already dark and many people are lined up to the approach of the Kagura den (神楽殿) that is used for the occasion. It’s hard to say how many people where there, it could be a couple of thousand that attended. The ceremony in itself is spectacular. First the shinto priest performs a cleansing ritual and offers a prayer. Two archers dressed in traditional clothes line the corners of the Kagura den (神楽殿), in front is the friendly demon and behind him are young boys holding bamboo torches, lighting up the sky. After this the bad demons come in and the yell and scream while they dance around the Kaguraden followed by the good demon who is driving them away. The boys with the torches follow the good demon and they are chanting something that I could not understand. The whole ceremony lasts about 25 minutes and at the end the demons and torch boys walk through the shrine compound, while the archers shoot their arrows at the nearby torii. If you want to see the whole ceremony, you should be in front of the Kaguraden at least 21/2 hours in advance.
Category:Travel and Places
Keywords:Japan, Kyoto, Mame-maki, Setsubun, Yoshida Kenkō, Yoshida Shrine, 吉田神社, 節分