Amami Superman Photography

A Place to Share My Photos

Feb 7, 2010

Otakiage 2010

Posted by Amami Superman

What is setsubun? To go through and explain what setsubun is and how it originated would take some time. I'll try to give you a really short explanation.

Setsubun is a ceremony or festival all about bringing in good luck for the New Year. It's always held on February 3 and is celebrated throughout Japan.

One of the things they do to bring in the good luck is drive out the bad. Probably the main thing associated with this is an event called mame maki. Mame maki involves throwing beans (or peanuts), at demons and monsters to drive them away or for throwing at/to people for good luck. Some people follow this tradition in their own homes. The father, or head figure of the family, would put on a demon mask and the children would throw peanuts at him while yelling, "oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!", which basically means, "Demons out, good luck in!" They also do this kind of thing at shrines.

Another ceremony they perform at shrines during setsubun is otakiage. In my previous post, I posted some photos of omikuji and ema. Otakiage is the burning of these items from the previous year. These are some of the photos I took of that event here in Amami.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/4.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Beginning of the Otakiage Ceremony

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/30 sec, f/4.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Performing the Rite

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/50 sec, f/4.0, ISO -- EXIF
Carrying the Flame

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/80 sec, f/4.0, ISO -- EXIF
Lighting the Fire

Along with burning omikuji and ema, they also burn charms and talismans from the previous year. The charms and talismans are for all kinds of things. Most of them are for good health. There are also some for business success, safety for driving automobiles, school and study, etc.

Nikon D60, Sigma 30mm f/1.4, 1/100 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Loading It On

Nikon D60, Sigma 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 165mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.3, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Burning Ema

"To grow up healthy and bright. Nov 25, 2008" The ema in the middle of the photo is probably a wish about a newborn child.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 135mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF
People's Wishes for Last Year

"To grow and always be bright and healthy with a cute smile." Another ema probably for a child.

"To pass the entrance exams for Amami High School. I WILL PASS!" Written on the ema at the bottom of the photo.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 55mm, 1/160 sec, f/4.0, ISO 100 -- EXIF
Getting Hot

Nikon D60, Nikkor 55-200mm f/4.0-5.6 @ 200mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 -- EXIF
5 Corner Ema - A Wish to Pass a Test

I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but while writing this post and reading the Japanese written on this ema, 五角 (5 corners) and 合格 (to pass), are kind of like homonyms. 五角 is GOKAKU and 合格 is GOUKAKU. They both sound the same when spoken quickly.

Nikon D60, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 45mm, 1/800 sec, f/5.3, ISO 200 -- EXIF
An Inferno

So that was otakiage they do for setsubun here in Amami. Because Amami is such small place, this ceremony is dinky compared to the big places in central Japan. My friend Jeffrey Friedl made a post in his blog a few years back of setsubun at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto. He has some fantastic photos and you really get an idea how big this event can be.

Later on in the afternoon they had the mame maki event. I have to admit, my photos pretty much sucked for that. But I'll try to share some in my next post.


Post a Comment

Keep the language clean please. I have family that see this. Tell us what part of the world you're in.