The unique setsubun festival with Okame that seems to be laughing at Senbon shakado
The setsubun festival of Senbonshakado (Senbon Buddha Hall) takes place at its main hall on 3rd February.
Also known as Okame setsubun-e, the festival has been handed down to generations for about 800 years along with worship for the Okame tumulus, build for a wife of a head carpenter named Okame in an old episode. Okame gave advice to her husband named Takatsugu when he had trouble in constructing Daihoonji Temple(another name of Senbonshakado) and supported the completion of the temple. However, Okame killed herself to atone for her husband's loss of face.
The festival starts with dancing by Maiko from the Kamishichiken district in dedication to the event, followed and highlighted by a Kyogen (traditional comic drama) performance about Okame and a ritual of throwing roasted soybeans to drive evil spirits away. People join the festival to wish for wealth, happiness and good marriage, as well as to pay respect to Okame’s faith for her husband.
In the course of the festival, Buddhist Incantations and memorial services are first conducted for men and women of the year (people who were born in a year with the same sign of the Chinese zodiac as the current year) wearing a traditional monk costume and mask of Okame’s face. The unique Kyogen play on Okame is then performed by the Shigeyama Kyogen Group, acting out a story that Okame, who has now become a god of fortune, converts the spirits of devils with her smile.
Throwing roasted soybeans
After this Okame Kyogen, the ritual of throwing roasted soybeans is conducted by the men and women of the year as well as local notables on the stage, in order to ward off evil spirits and drive away devils.