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The Setsubun Festival of Yoshida Shrine, Kyoto: Video Introduction

This video, titled "Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival, Kyoto, 2016|Demon Exorcising Ritual (Oniyarai)" (京都 吉田神社 節分祭2016 追儺式(鬼やらい)), was uploaded by "Kyo-yumoto Hatoya Zuihokaku" (京湯元ハトヤ瑞鳳閣).

Every year, a Setsubun Festival is held at Yoshida Shrine in Sakyo, Kyoto, in Japan's Kansai region. In this video, you can see the traditional event "Oniyarai," a ritual to drive away demons that has been passed down for many years. Three oni (demons), blue, red and yellow, rush into the shrine grounds, shouting and scaring the shrine-goers. This is followed by spear and shield-wielding officials valiantly driving away the demons. Children attending the festival sometimes even cry at the terrifying sight of the demons. The powerful performance with the demons is a must-see!
[Video] 1:17 - The Vigorous Red Oni

The History and Benefits of Yoshida Shrine, Kyoto

Image of a torii gate at Yoshida Shrine, Kyoto
Photo:A torii gate at Yoshida Shrine, Kyoto

Yoshida Shrine, located in Sakyo, Kyoto, is famous for its traditional wedding ceremonies and for warding off bad luck. The shrine is located at the foot of Mt. Yoshida, right next to Kyoto University's Yoshida Campus, where beautiful autumn foliage can be seen in the fall.

The history of Yoshida Shrine dates back to 859, when Fujiwara no Yamakage invited the four deities of Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara to serve as shrine deities.

The four deities enshrined at the shrine are Takemikazuchi no Mikoto, Iwainushi no Mikoto, Amenokoyane no Mikoto, and Himegami, and are believed to ward off evil and bring good fortune.

Various deities, including the god of cooking and the god of sweets, are enshrined in the shrine grounds, and many aspiring chefs and pastry chefs from all over Japan visit the shrine.

The Setsubun Festival, a major event of faith and tradition in Kyoto since it began in the Muromachi Period (1336-1573 A.D.), attracts many tourists as well as locals. In this article, we'll introduce some of the highlights of Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival.

Oniyarai, a Demon Exorcising Ritual at Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival

Image of oniyarai

The Tsuina Ceremony held every February 2nd at Yoshida Shrine is also called "Oniyarai." Setsubun is commonly associated with mamemaki (bean throwing), but at Yoshida Shrine, Oniyarai is the main attraction. In this ceremony, three oni (demons), red, blue, and yellow, are chased away by "Housoshi."

The Housoshi, who wears a mask with four golden eyes, is a sorcerer with divine powers originating from China. Holding a shield and a halberd, he walks through the shrine to ward off evil spirits by striking the ground with the halberd and shouting loudly. Children who cry out loudly in fear of the oni are said to grow up healthy. Since actual oni are gentle, it is common to see them comforting children who cry. We recommend bringing a camera so you can take some awesome photos of the oni during the ceremony.
[Video] 1:58 - Housoshi Driving Away the Oni

When will Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival be held in 2024?

Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival is scheduled to be held from February 2-4, 2024. The festival usually attracts around 500,000 visitors, and the shrine grounds are filled with crowds of people who come to pray for good luck and to receive the popular "fuku-mame," or lucky beans. The festival will feature 800 booths and food stands on the 2nd and 3rd, making it an exciting event. For three days from February 2nd to 4th, you can make a special visit to the Imperial Palace.

Win Lucky Beans and Other Prizes at the Yoshida Shrine Lottery!

The "Yaku-yoke Fukumame" (lucky beans to ward off bad luck) that come with lottery tickets are extremely popular each year. Those who purchasers the lucky beans are entered into a drawing for a chance to win a variety of prizes sponsored by a number of famous companies. The event has long been enjoyed by visitors to the shrine. Visitors are sure to be amazed by the luxurious prizes!

The luck that comes with the lucky beans, which may bring you a car, electrical appliances, or other items, makes one's heart leap with excitement. Each bag of lucky beans is priced at 300 yen (~$2.30), and each bag comes with one raffle ticket. The lottery is usually held on February 4 at 1:00 p.m., and the winners will be announced simultaneously at the shrine grounds and on the website after February 5. The deadline for redeeming a lucky drawing is usually around February 20, so don't forget to redeem your prizes if you win!

Summary of Yoshida Shrine's Setsubun Festival

Image of Yoshida Shrine, Sakyo, Kyoto
Photo:Yoshida Shrine, Sakyo, Kyoto

Yoshida Shrine has a temporary parking lot, but it is not available during the three days of the Setsubun Festival. There are several paid parking lots, but not many parking spaces are available, so you may have less trouble with congestion if you use public transportation.

Please note that there will be extensive traffic restrictions in the surrounding area (from Yoshida Shrine to Higashi Ichijo Intersection (東一条交差点, Higashi Ichijo Kosaten)). Winter in Kyoto can be quite cold, so be sure to pack warm clothing for your visit. For those with small children, it's recommended that you visit the shrine during the daytime when there is less crowding. The three oni who are driven away during the Tsuina Ceremony walk around the shrine grounds and along the approach to the shrine during the daytime. It can be a bit scary, but you can only encounter the oni during the Setsubun Festival. It's sure to make for good memories.

【TripAdvisor】Yoshida Shrine

Written By
Last Updated : Jan. 11, 2024
山田コウスケ(Kosuke Yamada)
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture. I enjoy grabbing drinks and making travel plans.
Setsubun Matsuri
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