Setsubun and Mamemaki: Driving out the Demons
Mean, Nasty Demons -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Mean, Nasty Demons

The Heian Shrine (a huge shrine in eastern Kyoto) had Setsubun events today (Wikipedia on “Setsubun”). The main event associated with Setsubun is mamemaki豆撒き, literally “bean scattering” – which involves throwing dried beans at demons while yelling “demons out! Good fortune in!

As you might expect of any event that involves the throwing of beans, kids love it.

Nasty Demon Threatens Docile Camera-Toting Population -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Nasty Demon Threatens Docile Camera-Toting Population

Kids love it unless they think the demons are real...

Hiding Behind Mommy -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Hiding Behind Mommy
Mr. Whitehair-and-Orangepants Heads Away -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 110mm — 1/2500 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Mr. Whitehair-and-Orangepants Heads Away
Cautiously Emerging, Still Wary -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 86mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Cautiously Emerging, Still Wary

The demons eventually headed up toward the main building of the shrine, where unbeknownst to them, beans awaited.

Menacing the Good Townsfolk -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1600 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Menacing the Good Townsfolk

The parent in me was surprised at how few children attended the event. There were a lot of people of every age, but I would have expected a decidedly kid-heavy crowd.

The camera geek in me was thrilled with how many beefy, hunky SLRs were in attendance. I saw a huge Leica SLR (an M9, I think). There was one big Canon pro-level SLR with a big hunk of white zoom lens. And I saw about 100 Nikon SLRs – mostly D200 and D2x, but I also noticed the occasional consumer SLR and film SLR as well. Nikon and Canon compete in many different markets, but it was evident today that Nikon had won the bean-throwing crowd. (As for me, I'm agnostic: I have one of each brand.)

The shrine guy in the upper-left of the next shot (wearing purplish lowers) is wielding a Nikon SLR with a humongous lens, although you can't appreciate the lens size from this angle.

Lotsa' Cameras -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/1250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Lotsa' Cameras

Eventually, the demons wore out their welcome, and they were met by half a dozen bean-throwing dignitaries, who promptly drove them out of the shrine area.

I Bean Thee (If you look carefully, you can see the beans mid-flight) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
I Bean Thee
(If you look carefully, you can see the beans mid-flight)
Demons Get 0wn3d -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 200mm — 1/180 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Demons Get 0wn3d
Triclops Looks For Help (ain't gonna get it) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 90mm — 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Triclops Looks For Help
(ain't gonna get it)

A kind man gave Anthony some beans to throw at the demons, but he was reluctant to do so (even though he was sitting on my shoulders by this time). I knew that he was a bit scard by the event – that's half the fun – but I didn't find out until later that he truly thought that the demons were real. We looked over some of the 400 pictures I took, and found signs that perhaps they weren't real – they had people shoes instead of demon shoes, people hands, etc. – so he knows now that they were people dressed up as demons, but I'm not sure he really buys it.

Anyway, the beans in setsubun are meant to symbolize goodness and good fortune, which is why they can drive away the demons. On the other hand, those same qualities are beneficial to people, so the next part of the event involves having beans thrown at you. I'll leave that for another day's post.


Before ending this post, I'd like to revisit this shot from above:

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2008 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/

In it, you can see an out-of-focus lantern hanging in the background right above the demon's head. In this post from 2006, you can see a new bride standing under that very lantern. I love the lanterns at the Heian Shrine since first photographing them a couple of years ago. One of the gifts that an interest in photography has given me is the ability to notice more of the simple beauty that surrounds us, a visual form of “stop and smell the roses”, if you will.

Continued here...


One comment so far...

Hey, Jeffrey. I truly enjoy your photos — you have certainly surpassed my skills/abilities. Email me sometime, it’s been too long since we last talked. Best, Rick

— comment by Rick on February 7th, 2008 at 12:33pm JST (9 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink
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