Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Setsubun and Obake

Setsubun is a Japanese festival celebrating the beginning of Spring in Japan. On this day it is traditional for familes to throw beans out of their house while chanting "Devils out, luck in!" to ward off bad luck for the coming year.

In Kyoto there are many "Mamemaki" ceremonies where preists and invited guests (such as maiko and geisha) throw lucky beans people visiting shrines. There is also another custom in Kyoto called "Obake", which is like Japanese Halloween. This custom is now confined mainly to the geisha districts, where geisha go from tea house to tea house and perform a skit while dressed in outrageous costumes.

One of the rules of Obake is that things are topsy-turvey. Old dress as young, men dress and women and vice-versa. This year Peter and his friends dressed up for Setsubun in Obake costumes, much to the amusement of the tourists! Many Japanese people do not know about Obake and thought they were actors. Peter was dressed as an old-fashioned courtesan and performed a dance. There will be a video on YouTube soon!

Peter as "Munage-Dayuu" (Hairy-chested Courtesean, LOL).

Peter and friends outside Yasaka Jinja.

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