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.
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?