Setsubun takes place on February 3rd each year and marks the end of winter and the coming of spring. Temples and shrines everywhere in Japan celebrate it. The most fun and famous part of Setsubun is the bean tossing ritual. Senso-ji Temple is the oldest temple in Tokyo and it is said that it was here that these Setsubun celebrations took place for the first time for common people to attend.
In Taito, Sentsubun celebrations take place at several places including Shitaya Shrine near Ueno Station and Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. At their homes, people throw roasted soybeans to drive away evil and invite in good luck. This is accompanied by shouting “fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto” meaning “good fortune inside, oni demons outside”. At supermarkets and convenience stores this week you can see packs of beans and oni demon masks being sold for this.
Setsubun at Senso-ji Temple
Setsubun celebrations here start with the small children of Senso-ji Kindergarten parading through Nakamise Street towards the Main Hall. They get to throw beans at red and blue oni demons carrying big clubs. It is a cheerful and fun event.
Later the main bean tossing ceremony often includes celebrities such as comedians, actors, or athletes who are invited by the temple to join the festivals. They toss the beans together from a platform at the Main Hall of the temple. Come and join the people trying to catch some of the beans.
Senso-ji Temple’s Setsubun celebrations also include an auspicious performance, the Dance of the Seven Lucky Gods called Fukuju-no-mai. The Seven Lucky Gods of Japan, or Shichifukujin in Japanese, are Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Daikokuten, Fukurokuju, Hotei, and Jurojin. To receive good luck from all the Shichifukujin you would usually have to do a Shichifukujin Megumi, a small “pilgrimage” to each of the local shrines and temples where the deities are enshrined. But on Setsubun, you can see them all together here at Senso-ji Temple bringing good fortune.
More about events in Taito here http://authentic-tokyo.com/event/