On February the 3rd, 201３, was the day of the Setsubun Festival which we visited at Kitano tenman-gu. Setsubun literally means 'seasonal division', and it celebrates the passage from winter into spring. The most famous custom of Setsubun is the Mame-maki, or Bean Throwing, where people throw dried beans at people dressed in oni masks or out the door to purify the house and bring good luck in for the New Year. Lately, this practice has become uncommon among households, and most people go to temples or shrines to celebrate the event. After the dances, the maiko and priests take trays of packets full of beans and throw to the crowd - this starts a furious struggle of people trying to grab one of the bags. It is said that you will have luck for the rest of the year if you manage to catch a bag.
The Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社 Yasaka-jinja), once called Gion Shrine, is a Shinto shrine, located between the popular Gion District and Higashiyama District. Initial construction on the Shrine began in 656. The Shrine became the object of Imperial patronage during the early Heian period. In 965, Emperor Murakami ordered that Imperial messengers were sent to report important events to the guardian kami of Japan. These heihaku were initially presented to 16 shrines; and in 991, Emperor Ichijō added three more shrines to Murakami's list. Three years later in 994, Ichijō refined the scope of that composite list by adding Umenomiya Shrine and Gion Shrine.