February 07, 2011

What Is Evil?

Think about  this. What do you use, when you fight against evil  or devils to vanquish them?? Swards, spears, arrows? In Japan we use tiny tiny things - roasted soy beans!!
According to an old lunar calender, spring starts on February 4th. One day before the beginning of spring,  February 3rd,  "Bean Throwing Ceremony"  is held all over Japan  to drive away devils or evil.  February 3rd is called Setsubun ( 節分) ,meaning parting of seasons, winter and spring.

This ceremony is held not only in temples or shrines but also in homes. To practice this ritual is very easy. Just throw roasted soy beans shouting "Devils out, Good luck in !".

                                                         at Kofuku-ji Temple

Kofuku-ji Temple is famous for "Driving Away Devils Ceremony" , part of "Bean Throwing Ceremony" held on February 3rd .  Six devils appear on the terrace of  East Main Hall of Kofuku-ji Temple and run noisily,scaring people by wielding  torches and weapons.

Eventually Buddhist deity(毘沙門天) races in  and vanquishes devils.

Now they are running away!

Interestingly enough, six devils are family members of three generations. According to Kofuku-ji Temple' explanation, they are grandfather, father, mother and three children. Oh,poor devils! 

                                                     He is the youngest one.
Mother and son

These are the masks used in "Driving Away Devils Ceremony" in Kofuku-ji Temple.

                   After the ceremony, the temple gives  people a small paper packet of roasted soy beans.

This is another charm to drive away devils-  a twig of holly with the head of sardine
Pointy leaves of holly hurt evil.
Devils hate the fishy smell of sardine. 
People put this charm by the entrance of a house.

In olden days, people believed that bad things, such as disease, natural disasters, bad weather, fires and more, were brought by evil or devils.  Thanks to science development, we  need to be less afraid of many of them. While watching the devils rampaging on the terrace of East Main Hall, I thought they would symbolize also our inner evil.  Maybe the last evil to be driven away is our foul heart.

 By the way, did you eat roasted soy beans, the same number of your age? I ate them and got full!


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  1. Que foto tan peculiar la del pez.


  2. Fantastic photos, as always!
    I ate beans more than my age:) There are places where oni is welcome!
    Japanese folklore is such a profound subject to me.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Feeling that drifts feeling that seems to be early spring and is very good.
    The composition of "Photograph" is good though it is the usual. Regrettably, the work of "Kyoto Station premises" is too good in that size.

    It was likely to have stuck from daytime to the night and to have taken a picture this time though it was "Kasuga Taisha Shrine" of the first appearance.
    Very. However,"Focus" It is sweet. There is a feeling about one now though it is likely to depend on "Use lens". It is not in "Auto" surely

  5. 節目を大切にする日本の、ちょっぴり愉快な行事ですね。篝火の中走る鬼に子供なら泣きそうですね。
    お母さん鬼までいたとは驚き。( ´艸`) 
    春になりますね♪ 素敵な写真ありがとう。

  6. So gorgeous and interesting photos! I think you must have been busy taking photos during the event. It is interesting to see the masks used for the ceremony. Our family hold a small ceremony in our home. I made sushi rolles called eho-maki for the ceremony,but forgot to eat beans. Your newheader is beautiful,snowwhite.

  7. Oni is a complex character due to its benevolent nature as well as demonic one in Japanese folktale. They sometimes walk at the head of processions in rituals or oni-gawara is put on the roof-ridge to drive away evil spirits. I like the story of “Naita Aka-oni” and the oni-family of Kofuku-ji.

    Pictures are gorgeous with vivid expression of onis. Thank you.

  8. Yoshi,
    Thanks for useful information. In Nara city, there is a temple which also accepts poor devils during "Bean Throwing Ceremony". It is Gango-ji Temple(元興寺) in Nara-machi. The temple you introduced and Gango-ji Temple have something in common. It is Mountain Worship of esoteric Buddhism. The subject,鬼‐devils, is one of my favourites. I will continue to follow this subject!

  9. ohwakio-han
    Thank you for your wonderful advise. I'll use lens more, not use easy auto-forcus as much as possible. Thanks again!

  10. Anzu,
    People of Japan have sharp esthetic sense on changing seasons. People appreciate the transience of time・・・it is beautiful!!

  11. redrose,
    You also must be busy in taking pictures. Recently, I seldom go out without my camera.
    I had never thought I would become photoholic . Thank you!

  12. J Bar,
    Thanks for visiting. I'll visit your site.

  13. Stardust,
    鬼, devils are the very interesting subject, isn't it? Like Ashura, once devils are converted to Buddhist guardians, they will be the strongest. Evil is driven away by converted devils.

    We have both good and bad hearts together, always struggle inside us. That is our destiny.
    Someday I would like to come back to this subject.

    Thank you.

  14. I went to see this event many years ago and almost had forgotten about that. Thank you for sharing these photos and comments in detail.

  15. I walked around Kofukuji-temple on the afternoon on 3rd. Doors of Kofukuji-temple were open and a stage was build. But I couldn't wait till entry of demons. A family of demon by direction of Kofukuji-temple is humorous,isn't it?
    By the way, your new header's color and composition is very nice especially inclination of building.

  16. Wonderful and exciting tour. Hope to visit these festivals one day.

  17. Wonderful images of special ceremony.

  18. Someone said "there is a place where Oni is welcome". Is that "Onibashiri at Nenbutsuji Temple" in Gojo City?
    I happened to see the documentary film focusing on the person who was to play the part of a child of Oni. The event was designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Japan, where Oni was thought to bring good luck to people.

  19. Someon said "there is a place where Oni is welcome". Is that "Onibashiri at Nenbutsuji Temple" in Gojo city? 念仏寺の鬼走り
    I happened to see the documentary film on TV focusing the person who was to play the part of a child of Oni at the event.
    It was designated a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Japan, where Oni has been thought to bring in good luck to people.

  20. What a very special ceremony indeed! And your photos are superb as always! You do manage to capture so much color and detail that make them so very beautiful. Thank you for visiting my blog and I do appreciate your comments! I look forward to visiting yours again!


  21. What a fascinating ceremony! Loved your photos and this insight into Japanese culture.

  22. Japanese history and belief are for me always interesting...true though some belief are based on things that are quite weird and yes we shouldn't be afraid of them....Wonderful photos! I love your header too!

    Hajimemashite....Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

  23. How interesting but also scary pictures !

  24. Good photography with great color and animation. The text is very informative. You've taught me something!

  25. Let's hear it for vanquishing the devils! Great stuff.

  26. Hello, snowwhite.

    Kofuku-ji Temple is grand.
    It seems to hold all the Japanese classic elements.
    And they let me feel immortality.

    Thank you for your visit.

  27. Thank you for visisting my blog and leaving comments. Your warm encouragements are my source of energy.

    cosmos, the places where Oni are welcomed are Kinpusen-ji Temple(金峯山寺)and Gango-ji Temple (元興寺). Thank you for your inormation. I didn't know 念仏寺陀々堂. It's very interesting three onis are father, mother and child, they are a nuclear family, aren't they. If we search for this type of the place, I'm sure there will appear more temples which accept onis. This is the generosity of Japan's culture. I appreciate it very much.

  28. Excellent and very interesting photos. I especially like the one of the devil running with fire.

  29. Snow scenery in Todaiji Temple is wonderful.
    I always appreciate your efforts to find the great pictures.

  30. Masami,
    Thank you for visiting and leaving enchouraging comment. I scarcely go out without my camera nowadays!


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko