Shimokitazawa Tengu Matsuri 2015

Last Saturday was Shimokitazawa’s famous festival, the Tengu Matsuri. Held every year at the beginning of February, it’s closely related to Japan’s Setsubun celebration, which is the day before Spring, according to a seriously messed up old Japanese calendar. That may seem harsh, but it snowed all day the day before this festival, so I suspect that the term “Spring” was used rather loosely in old Japan. Regardless! One of the traditions associated with this day is to throw dried beans at oni (ogres) while chanting “鬼は外、福は内!/oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi/Ogres out, good luck in!”

While this is odd enough in itself (and deserves its own post at some point in the future), the Shimokitazawa version is a bit different. Firstly, it involves the Japanese mythological Shinto mountain god/yokai (supernatural creature) Tengu, instead of just a plain ol’ oni. Tengu have the advantage of being able to bless people with good fortune, help in the passing of exams etc, while the oni are just plain bad guys. And this explains why people only shout “福は内!Fuku wa uchi/Good luck/fortune in!”, because you wouldn’t want to be ticking these potential benefactors off. That, and evil dissolves naturallyーso they say in this part of town, anyway.

While I’m sure there’s a better reason why they’ve chosen Tengu as their Setsubun-related frontman, but no Google search has given me the answer yet, I’ll see if I can find out via the local temple that’s in charge of it. ^^ Until then, here are some photos I snapped at the festival, though I wish I’d followed some of my own advice from last year’s Koenji Awaodori Festival.


shimokitazawa tengu matsuri

Tengu sighting!




tengu matsuri

Check out the Tengu’s crazy geta (stilt-shoes)!


tengu shimokitazawa

Giant Tengu head sighting! He’s getting closer…

tengu shimokitazawa

And closer…

tengu matsuri

And clo…wait! Where are you going!? T-T

Well, as you can see YJ and I placed ourselves in a not-so-ideal place. It was dark, and on top of that, the giant Tengu head veered off onto another street! Well, you never can tell with these temperamental god/spirit types. I’ll do better next next year. ^^

 Do you have any favorite festivals where you live?

4 responses to “Shimokitazawa Tengu Matsuri 2015”

  1. What a massive crowd! Great shots considering the amount of people crowding the streets!

    I guess great minds think alike because I, like Marta, also thought about how Chinese New Year is suppose to signal the beginning of spring. Usually it is pretty cold, but it might not be this year, considering it is pretty late (mid-Feb).

    And those shoes look pretty uncomfortable!
    Constance – Foreign Sanctuary recently posted…A Combination of Sass, Wit, and Humor – The Coolest Grandmother Ever!

    • Ri says:

      Yeah, I wish I could have gotten a better spot! We were lucky to find a place with a small stairway so that helped. 🙂

      Those shoes look craaazy uncomfy! And yes, I’d like to try just once. But I also don’t want to break any bones. Maybe best to leave it to the pros, haha!

  2. Marta says:

    Hahaha, great report! How can they walk with those shoes??

    The traditional Chinese calendar is also crazy, spring is supposed to start in the first day of the Chinese New Year and that is always in January/February, in the coldest time of the winter!
    Marta recently posted…Our short-distance relationship

    • Ri says:

      That’s a good question! The main guy, with the highest shoes obviously has help, but not all the other ones do. ^^ I’d hate to see anyone fall!!
      Yes! The old Japanese calendar is based on the Chinese, so that makes sense. It’s still crazy though, haha!! XD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

%d bloggers like this: