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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Setsubun Festival Yoshida Shrine Kyoto

Outdoor stall at Yoshida Shrine節分際吉田神社

Of the events celebrating the arrival of the lunar new year - "setsubun" in Japanese - the bonfire at Kyoto's Yoshida Shrine is the largest.

It is held from the evening of February 3rd until early the following morning.

Both sides of the street leading up to the torii gate at the entrance are lined with festival stalls, one of which is pictured here. The street bisects Kyoto University.

The stalls are popular with families that make up most of the visitors early on. They sell food and drinks, and offer old-time games.

From around 10 pm, though, the crowd thins and those left congregate around the massive bonfire within the grounds of the shrine.

Revelers bring old clothes and items they wish to dispose of, and throw them into the fire. The act is symbolic and cleansing.

The fire is finally put out and pulled down around 3 am. Most head home after that, but some of the stall sellers - a bit too drunk for their own good - always seem to end up fighting.


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