Yesterday Keiko and I celebrated Setsubun with thousands of our neighbors and other Tokyoites at the Nishiarai Daishi-Sojiji Temple. It was great fun but not exactly what we anticipated. (It was Keiko’s first experience as well.)
A very large crowd stood quietly in the Temple courtyard listening to the Buddhist monks saying the sutras accompanied by rhythmic drums and flutes. Then, the monks accompanied by politicians, athletes and entertainment celebrities, paraded along an especially constructed platform throwing soy beans, candies and amulets to the assembled crowds below.
The most recognized “bean thrower” star attractions were definitely the sumo wrestlers and TV personalities. On leaving we walked into the temple garden area to be greeted by an early display of plum tree blossoms, a sign that spring is on the way.
Later, having done the ritual bean throwing and a trip to our local spa, we enjoyed a quiet dinner at home. We began by standing and facing south-west to begin eating our special eco-maki rolls. Keiko also made a tasty crab miso soup and I drank a traditional Japanese New Year’s bottle of sake with floating flakes of gold. I then scattered toasted soybeans around our apartment to be sure the demons got the message!