Setsubun Festival, Nagata shrine, Hyogo

By Staff Writer
March 15, 2023
At Nagata Shrine in Hyogo Prefecture, the Setsubun Matsuri celebration is held every February. The origin of this ritual is said to have started around the Muromachi period (1333-1573). The oni or ogres that appear in this Setsubun Festival are considerd demons in most Japanese folk tales and regarded as a threat to people, but at Nagata Shrine they are messengers of the gods, who burn away misfortune with flames and cut off misfortune with a sword. In this ceremony, which takes place within the shrine grounds, the oni dance with torches to represent the burning away of misfortune. It has been designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset of the prefecture. Every February, many visitors come to the shrine to pray for safety and good health for the coming year, and many tourists also come to watch the ceremony.
Men in Oni masks carry flaming torches
Men in Oni masks dance and carry flaming torches
Men in Oni masks press their hands over spectators' heads to remove misfortune
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