Hari Kuyo at Horin-ji – an Ancient Needle Memorial Service in Kyoto
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
You can see Setsubun festivals in many temples and shrines, anywhere in Japan around the 3rd of February. The Darumadera Temple Setsubun Festival is one of them. Setsubun literally means season (setsu 節) division (bun 分), and usually indicates the day before Risshun (立春) which is the first day of spring. It is based on Japan’s old lunar calendar, and Setsubun and Risshun day sometimes change.
To bring happiness, the ritual ceremony of Mamemaki takes place at any Setsubun festival. People throw beans (Mame) and saying “Oni wa soto!” (Evil, go away!) and “Fuku wa uchi!” (Happiness, come in!). Sometimes you can see humorous scenes where Oni or demon runs around trying to escape from the people throwing beans at him.
Beans are one of the auspicious food in Japan because the sound of Mame is associated with staying healthy. And as you know, beans are an ingredient for Tofu and Miso, which is an indispensable part of Japanese cuisine. So, beans are deeply related to the life of the Japanese. We eat the same number of beans as our age plus one more, wishing for our healthy and happy life for the next year during Setsubun festival.
Horinji Temple (法輪寺) is the very unique temple commonly known as the Darumadera Temple (達磨寺). This temple is usually quiet but many people visit during the Setsubun festival.
The Horinji temple is the Zen Buddhist temple (臨済宗 Rinzai sect) which was opened in 1727. It is famous for Daruma Hall, where you can see over 8000 daruma dolls offered from all over Japan. I think that you can see so many various daruma dolls in one place only at Horinji temple. At the Horinji Temple, people put a talisman on the huge daruma dolls, wishing for happiness.
Daruma dolls are traditional Japanese dolls of a round shape with vivid space for eyes, usually of a red color. Their face and form look very special and funny, don’t they? Daruma dolls symbolize Bodhidharma, a great Buddhist monk who established the Zen Buddhism in India.
Speaking of Zen Buddhism, zazen, or meditation, is widely practiced. According to the legend, Bodhidharma sat facing a wall for 9 years in meditation without moving, and his arms and legs fall off in atrophy. That’s why Daruma dolls have no arms or legs. In Japan, Daruma dolls are the symbol of patience and success, and very popular as lucky charms.
During Setsubun festival people return their Daruma dolls and talismans which they bought in a previous year and put them on the pine tree at the entrance. A pine tree is also a lucky charm in Japan. Since Pine trees are evergreen trees, it is the symbol of longevity.
After the festival, these small daruma dolls and talismans are burned, which is the important ritual to send people’s wishes to heaven.
In the precincts of the temple, you will find Kinemadera Temple (貴寧磨) to comfort over 400 people who were dedicated to movie making since Japan started making movies.
In the garden, you will see its unique design which represents the phase of enlightenment in Buddhism, and beautiful flowers in every season; peony in May, hydrangea in June, and Indian lotus in August and September.
The Horinji Temple is opened to the public every day. Visit and see the unique spectacle! You can buy daruma dolls of various sizes throughout a year.
Dates: February 2nd, 3rd, 4th every year. (On 4th of February, the festival takes place only in the morning).
Place: Hōrin-ji Temple
Address: Kyōto-fu, Kyōto-shi, Kamigyō-ku, Yukuechō, 457
Official website (Japanese only): https://www.the-kyoto.jp/topics/02setsubun/setsubun2.html
Five minutes’ walk from Enmachi station on JR San-In line.
Darumadera is an outstanding place to visit even not during the Setsubun festival. I highly recommend you put it on your must-visit list next time in Kyoto. However, if you come during the Setsubun festival you will see an outstanding traditional event and all those unique Daruma dolls at the same time! This will definitely become an authentic experience in Kyoto!
If you would like to see this exciting event an explore Kyoto with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!
Kyoto is an old capital of Japan and a cultural and historical mecca for everyone who visits this country. It is the most popular city among tourists and a must-see destination indeed. Kyoto boasts over 4000 historical places including shrines, temples, and attracts visitors with its charming atmosphere of an ancient city. This city is great for shopping, bicycling, hiking, museums, galleries, green spaces, and features many famous festivals. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Kyoto! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/100-things-kyoto-sightseeing-spots-traditional-japanese-events
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Of course, Kyoto features many outstanding festivals featuring a long history, and you should see it when you have a chance! The original festival with huge festival floats takes place every year in Kyoto in July. I am sure you will enjoy one of the most popular Gion festivals in Japan! For more information about Kyoto`s Gion Matsuri click on the link below!
Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel themselves a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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