Sunday, February 4, 2018

Setsubun at Ohastsu Tenjin (Tsuyunoten)

露天神社 (お初天神)の 節分祭

Every year on February third there is a Setsubun festival at a small shrine near Osaka station.

Formaly, the shrine is named "Tsuyunoten" and it was founded over a thousand years ago when it was built on a island before the area (now the center of Osaka) was reclaimed from the sea. Now the shrine is popularly known at "Ohatsu Tenjin" after a woman who was at the center of romantic double suicide that occurred near the shrine in 1703 and became part of popular culture after the story was adapted to bunraku (puppet theater) with the play called "The Love Suicides of Sonezaki."

The Setsubun festival in Tsuyunoten features a mamemaki event in which people throw beans to ward off evil spirits as represented by participants dressed as ogres (red and blue).

After the ogres depart there is a ceremony in which men dressed as "yamabushi" (mountain hermits/ ascetic monks). The men may actually be yamabushi, but in the modern sense the yamabushi may refers to normal laymen who follow Shingon Buddhism.
The yamabushi recieve blessing from the shrine then perform a bonfire ceremony (護摩焚き) in which they bless the audience, shoot a ceremonial arrow to ward off evils from the four cardinal directions and burn prayer sticks (goma-gi; also known as "homa" in Buddhism).

At the ceremony the shrine provides special dishes such as sweet sake and zenzai (sweet red-bean soup).

A blue ogre.

A red-ogre (oni) walking on tall sandals and carrying a club (for balance, in this case).

Yamabushi, with their typical conch shell horn.

Preparing a long bow for the ceremony.

Ceremonial arrows being shot in the four cardinal directions to ward of evil.

Note that the bow-string is not being pulled back very forcefully.
The arrows are fired into vacant garden areas.

Flaming torches being prepared as prayers are read.

Thick smoke and towering flames.

Tending to the flames.

The yamabushi tend to the fire and control it with ladles of water and a garden hose.

Note the ringing device in this man's hand that is rung in rhythm with the prayers.

Sports charms.

Specific sports charms for badminton and kendo

You can pose in the stomach of a demon/ogre!

The largest omamori charm I have ever seen - 5000 yen.

A charm for each month of the year; showing the blooming plant that is specific to that month.

Visitors have a purifying talisman waved over their head before entering the bonfire area and making a lap around the fire.

Using a rake to tend to the fire.

Ohatsu shrine has added black light crystals.

A statue of Ohatsu and Tokubei. The lovers at the center of the Sonezaki suicide story.

A fortunes and a lovers-themed shrine.

Automated machines that sell fortunes.

A robotic arm disguised as a shishimai dancer which dispenses rolls of papers with fortunes printed on them.
For 200 yen you can get a fortune printed in five languages.

A new monument to Ohatsu and Tokubei with cute anime-faces.

Huge ema plate for the year of the dog.

Ema plate with Tokubei and Ohatsu