May Evil Go Away, May Happiness ComeLively "Setsubun" in Kyoto
On "Setsubun," February 3, the day before spring starts according to the Japanese lunar calendar, temples and shrines in Kyoto City held events to ward off evil. Geiko and Maiko, or geishas and apprentice geishas, from the entertainment quarters scattered soybeans at Yasaka Shrine, Higashiyama Ward, while many people visited Mibu-dera Temple, Nakagyo Ward, to dedicate earthenware plates.
At Yasaka Shrine, geisha and apprentice geisha scattered soybeans to pray for visitors' happiness, as they had done the day before.
Around 1:00 p.m., Gion Kobu Kabukai, or the preservation society for traditional geisha dance, presented dances to the deity. Their elegant dances mesmerized visitors. Then, when the shrine priest along with men and women born in years with the same Chinese zodiac sign as 2017, joined them to scattered soybeans, visitors surrounding the stage all reached out with their hands simultaneously.
A Japanese woman residing in Taipei City, Taiwan, who had come back to Japan with her 16-year-old daughter to visit their family and travel around, got a bag of beans. She said, "Catching beans was harder than it looked. It was amazing that older people were more powerful than younger ones."
At Mibu-dera Temple, which is in the "unlucky" southwest direction of Kyoto, earthenware plates were dedicated. The plates will be broken during the comic drama performance, "Dai Nembutsu Kyogen," commonly known as "Mibu Kyogen." Many people praying for protection from evil wrote their wishes on unglazed plates and offered them to the temple.
A crowd formed to buy 25-centimeter in diameter plates, which were sold along the approach to the precincts. Visitors used brushes to write their wishes on them, such as "family safety," "recovery from illness," and so on. A bag wholesaler from Nakagyo Ward, who mentioned that he visited the event every year, said, "I devoted the plate with the hope that this year will also be good."
It is believed that dedicating a plate on "Setsubun" drives evil off for the year. The dedicated plates will be used in "Horaku Wari," or smashing plates, which is the first program of the comic drama, "Mibu Kyogen" which is held in spring and fall.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)