Monday, February 3, 2020

Setsubun 2020

Setsubun, the traditional day of pelting demons (oni) with dried beans, was set for Monday, Feb. 3rd this year. However, I was thinking that maybe Terukuni Shrine might have its bean throwing event on Sunday just to accommodate anyone that had to work during the week. When I got there on Sunday though, I found this sign saying that it would be the following day at 4 PM.

When I came back, the parking lot was a bit more packed. There are fears of coronavirus right now, and a few people wore masks for protection, but not everyone. I decided to stay at the back just to avoid the insanity of people rushing the stage when the packets were tossed out. I arrived just as the main priest started blessing the crowd.

He's hidden in the back. All you can see is the top of the white paper swishy thing he waves about.

The politicians and business leaders started throwing out a few packets when one of the younger guys told them to stop so he could make announcements first. The idea was that some of the packets of dried beans contained a token or coin or something, and that you needed to look closely for it before leaving the grounds. If you had one, you were to go to one of the buildings at the back to trade it in for something. Then the other guys returned to throwing the packets out. It was like watching feeding time for the carp and pigeons in the park. Everyone went insane trying to snatch the packets from each other. I just chilled at the back, because nothing was coming my way. Toward the end, one packet flew through a break in the crowd in front of me and hit the ground a bit ahead of my foot. I was going to step on it to claim it, but some mid-30's housewife made a lunging grab and snatched it out of the air on the first bounce. A bit later, as things were winding down, one more packet sailed over my head and I failed to get close before it hit the ground behind me and split open. Everyone else turned away to focus on the remaining packets, and another woman closer to the broken one reached down and picked it up. She then offered it to me, apologizing that half the beans were on the ground, but I could have what remained in the wrapper. I tried turning her down, but she insisted. The event ended at the point and the woman pushed the torn packet into my hands. There was no token or coin in with the beans, so I ate them and returned back home.

It's amazing how violent people can get over 1 - 2 cents worth of beans, though, when you can buy large bags of them for yourself at the grocery store for a couple dollars.

"Demons out, good luck in."

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