Tokyo events for Monday, January 30 to Sunday, February 5, 2023.
Demons out!, Fortune in! This week, Setsubun — an annual festival to celebrate the change to spring — takes over as many temples and shrines throw beans around and conduct their own unique traditions.
Shinagawa Yakiimo Terrace
If you are looking for your sweet potato fix, look no further. The annual Yakiimo Terrace is back from its hiatus and is looking baked to perfection. Croquette burgers, chips, and — of course — baked potatoes will be on offer.
Tokyo Book Swap
If you are desperate for a good read but dislike the wasteful nature of buying new (or have given up perusing the dismal shelves of BookOff), then this bi-monthly book swap event could be the start of a new chapter.
Bean Throwing and Dance of the 7 Lucky Gods
Combine bean throwing at Setsubun with a dance to honor the Seven Lucky Gods for the ultimate in warding off ill fortune for the year at Asakusa’s Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo.
Mt. Takao Setsubun
Held at the Yakuo-in Temple, beans are thrown into the crowd by men and women born under the same calendrical cycle as this one. Prominent singers, sumo wrestlers, and actors also join in and crowds will jostle to catch beans as if you eat them it is believed you will be free of illness and misfortune in the coming year. A goma fire ritual takes place before the bean throwing to purify the throwers.
Zojoji Temple, famed for its association with the long line of Tokugawa shoguns and for its proximity to Tokyo Tower, will have a bean-flinging ceremony with men and women born in the same year as the current year of the Chinese zodiac (e.g. the rabbit) kitted out in samurai garb.
Chinatown Celebration Parade
The Chinese Spring Festival—will celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor, King of the Heavens, with a parade through Yokohama’s Chukagai, or Chinatown. Although advertised simply as a celebration parade, this is also apparently the day to hold a birthday party for The Jade Emperor.
The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th and final day of the Chinese Spring Festival, taking place in Yokohama’s Chukagai Chinatown at the Ma Zhu Miao, Shrine to the Goddess of the Sea, known as Masobyo in Japanese. There will be a display of paper lanterns on which people’s hopes and dreams for the year ahead will be written and performances of lion dances.
Back in the Edo days, kites were considered lucky charms that help ward off fires, which were rampant at that time. Since then, a Kite Market, where kites are displayed and sold, has been held annually on the Days of the Horse in February.
Koubai Red Plum Blossom Festival
Every year, the Ushi-Tenjin Kitano Shrine puts on a wonderful plum blossom festival during February that celebrates koubai (red plum blossoms). The shrine enshrines the ancient poet Sugawara no Michizane, who was known for his love of the blooming flower.
Miura-kaigan Kawazu Cherry Blossom Festival
More than 1,000 Kawazu-sakura trees line the road from Miura-kaigan station to Komatsugaike Park for this annual, much-anticipated festival. February 5 is the official start date of the festival but check here for a live feed of the current blooming status.