Setsubun is the last day before the first day of the following season, but in modern times it has come to refer more specifically to the day before the beginning of spring on the old calendar, currently observed on 3 February. The point between seasons is traditionally considered a time when people can be afflicted by "evil," manifesting as ill fortune or ill health. The ritual of mamemaki (豆まき / bean scattering) is performed to ward off or exorcise evil accumulated over the past year, represented by oni (鬼 / ogres).
Setsubun is also observed at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, where priests and guests (larger events may feature celebrities and sumo wrestlers) throw roasted soy beans and other lucky items that parishioners scramble to catch.
Some of the most famous Setsubun events in and around Nagoya are held at Ōsu Kannon, and the temples known as the Four Owari Kannon (尾張四観音).
These four temples, Kasadera Kannon (Minami Ward), Jimokuji Kannon (Ama City), Arako Kannon (Nakagawa Ward) and Ryūsenji Kannon (Moriyama Ward), devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokitasvara) have long been worshipped by locals praying for the compassion of the Bodhisattva, and following the construction of Nagoya Castle, came to be revered as the guardians of the Owari domain as each temple is located either north, east, west or south of Nagoya Castle. Each year, the Kannon temple located in that year's lucky direction (with Nagoya Castle as the center point) is considered especially lucky, a belief reflected in the number of worshippers who visit. Arako Kannon Temple is the designated lucky Kannon for 2020.
Each year at Nagoya's Osu Kannon Temple a special stage is set up for a mamemaki ceremony, which begins at 10:00. In the afternoon, a parade procession featuring the takarabune (宝船 / treasure ship) and the seven gods of fortune, departs Sakae Shōkōen (栄小公園) park (near Sakae Intersection) at 13:18 and arrives at Osu Kannon at 15:00.
When: Mon. 3 Feb. (10:00 - 18:00)
Where: Osu Kannon Temple (大須観音)
Access: A short walk from Osu Kannon Sta. (大須観音駅, ) Exit 2 on the Tsurumai Subway Line (地下鉄鶴舞線)
Photos courtesy of Osu Kannon Temple
●Kasadera Kannon (Ryūfukuji Temple) Setsubun-kai (笠覆寺 笠寺観音 節分会)
The southern temple of the Four Owari Kannon, Kasadera Kannon in Minami Ward is popular with those seeking to be protected from ill fortune, or to be wed, but it is also a popular spot to observe Setsubun.
Setsubun festivities at at Ryūfukuji Temple begin on 2 Feb. with prayers for those seeking to be rid of ill fortune (20:00 - 00:00; fee applies) and a variety of stalls. On 3 Feb., many visit to receive mamemaki blessings (豆まき護摩祈祷), offered between 9:00 - 17:00 (6,000 Yen), and take home a lucky masu (桝 / square wooden cup) and lucky rake.
Where: Ryūfukuji Temple (Kasadera Kannon / 笠覆寺 笠寺観音), Minami Ward (南区) Kasadera-cho Kamishinmachi 83 (笠寺町上新町83)
Access: A 3-minute walk east from Moto Kasadera Sta. (本笠寺駅, NH29) on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line (名鉄名古屋本線). As surrounding area will be closed to traffic, please use public transport.
Website: http://kasadera.jp/ (Japanese)
Photo courtesy of Ryūfukuji Temple
●Ryūsenji Temple Setsubun-kai (龍泉寺節分会)
Located in Moriyama Ward, Ryūsenji Temple is the eastern temple of the Four Owari Kannon.
The temple's Setsubun celebrations are attended by tens of thousands. Visitors who receive blessings at Ryūsenji during the Setsubun-kai event can also participate in the mamemaki. The fuku-gi (福木 / lucky baton) and fuku-mochi (福餅 / lucky pounded rice cake) throwing from 17:15 attracts many visitors, as it is said that those fortunate enough to catch the lucky items will have good fortune for the following year.
When: Mon. 3 Feb.
Where: Ryūsenji Temple (龍泉寺) in Moriyama Ward (守山区) Ryūsenji 1-902 (竜泉寺1-902)
Access: A 3-minute walk north (up the slope) from Ryūsenji-guchi (竜泉寺口) Stop on the Nagoya GuideWay Bus / Yutorito Line (名古屋ガイドウェイバス[ゆとりーとライン])
Website: http://www.ryusenji.com/ (Japanese)
Photo courtesy of Ryūsenji Temple
●Hōōzan Jimokuji Temple Setsubun-kai (鳳凰山 甚目寺 節分会)
In 597, only 60 years after the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, Hadame Tatsumaro (甚目龍磨), a fisherman from Hadame village in Ise, was catching fish at an inlet (around 200 meters southeast of today's Jimokuji Temple). When a golden statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon got caught in his net, the delighted fisherman built a temple to the north and enshrined the statue there. This is said to be the origin of Jimokuji Temple. Thriving as one of the Four Owari Kannon from the Edo period, the temple throngs with people of all ages during its annual setsubun event on 3 Feb.
Where: Hōōzan Jimokuji Temple (鳳凰山 甚目寺), Ama City (あま市)
When: Mon. 3 Feb. (8:00 - 17:00)
Access: A 5-minute walk from Jimokuji Sta. (甚目寺駅, TB01) on the Meitetsu Tsushima Line (名鉄津島線). As surrounding area will be closed to traffic, please use public transport.
Photo courtesy of Ama Municipal Miwa Folk History Museum