Celebrated to mark the end of winter and the day before spring begins on the old lunar calendar, Setsubun is an age-old Japanese ceremony thought to drive evil spirits from the house. Many people dress as demons and are herded out of businesses and houses by the bean-throwing occupants — it is a lot of fun and there are festivals all over Japan.
Dojima Yakushido does the festivities a little differently. Instead of mame-maki (bean throwing), it’s Goma-daki — tossing joss sticks into a fire. There’s also a water drawing ritual, called omizukumi, and visitors can receive water that has been blessed by a priest from famous Nara temple Yakushido, which is believed to have purifying properties.
In the shops and restaurants in the Kita-Shinchi area, customers and shop staff throw good-fortune beans at the demons to expel them. In some clubs, bar staff and hostesses dress in outrageous Obake costumes to add to the festive mood in the town.