Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

Setsubun in Kyoto and Nara Video

Setsubun (Feb 3rd) is a Japanese Spring ritual where Japanese drive bad luck in the form of Oni (devils) out of their homes with a handful of tossed beans. At temples and shrines, they do mame maki which is throwing beans and other things to gathered crowds.

Setsubun is one of my favorite Japanese holidays and I’ve been celebrating it for the past 6 years or more. In the past I always celebrated it at temples and shrines in or around Tokyo. This year I headed for Kyoto taking in Nara in the evening as well.

I started Setsubun on the 2nd with some Geisha mame maki (geisha were throwing beans that is not that they were throwing geisha). On the 3rd, I went to 6 places starting with Yasaka Shrine for a brief mame maki by people in old court costumes then I went to Heian Shrine where they were doing Kyogen, traditional comedy plays set inbetween Noh dramas. After Heian I went to the small temple Shogo-In where they pelted 3 devils then later the devils threw beans at us! At a tiny temple near the old Imperial Palace, they had three devils arrive with weapons only to be driven away by beans and chants.

After that I took a train to Nara and got there in time to see yet another Oni demonstration. Here the devils were defeated by Bishamonten or Bishamon, Buddhist deity and Guardian of the North. It was like spiritual pro-wrestling with weapons. After that I went to Kasuga Taisha Shrine for a cool down. They had their hanging lanterns lit up for Setsubun. It was very beautiful.

Whew! After all that I was Setsubuned Out!

February 6, 2010 Posted by | japan, japanese culture, Kyoto, oni, Only in Japan, Setsubun | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Japanese Ghost Stories – The Demon-Haunted Bridge

In Old Japan, ghost stories were a form of old fashion all natural air conditioning designed to induce cold shivers on hot summer nights.

Here I re-tell an old story about a samurai who risks his life for a wager to prove his courage by crossing a bridge haunted by a demon.

The story can be found in “Japanese Tales” an anthology of old stories compiled by Royall Tyler.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | culture, demons, devils, folklore, Ghost Stories, Ghosts, japan, japanese culture, Storytelling, tradition, video, vlog, weird | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment