Darumadera Temple Setsubun Festival – See Daruma and Throw Beans in Kyoto



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.

About Setsubun Festival

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.

About Darumadera or Horinji Temple

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.

What’s Daruma?

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.

Setsubun in Darumadera

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.

Other Things to Do in Darumadera

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.

Details and Access

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): 


Five minutes’ walk from Enmachi station on JR San-In line.

Closing Remarks

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!

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I'm an English speaking tour guide in Kyoto. You can enjoy a variety of events in each region throughout a year. I hope to see you soon.

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