FUKUOKA -- Kumamon, the beloved black bear mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, joined locals to perform the annual bean-scattering ritual at Kushida Shrine in this southwestern Japan city on Feb. 3, pleasing visitors hoping for luck in 2020.
Crowds tried to grab the roasted beans and pink and white auspicious rice cakes tossed out by Kumamon and others, including men and women born in the Chinese zodiac Year of the Rat, just as 2020 is. The bean-throwing VIPs dispersed the good-luck goodies from a special stage set up at the shrine in the city's Hakata Ward while chanting, "Demons out, good luck in!"
The event is part of the annual "Setsubun" festival held at many shrines across the country on the day before the beginning of spring as observed in the Japanese tradition.
Yuki Nakamura, 54, a local housewife, was visiting with her family including her 1-year-old grandson Hiroto Yamaguchi from Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo. She told the Mainichi Shimbun, "My grandson got to be carried in the arms of a demon and we got a lot of beans and rice cakes. I'm sure this year will be a good one for us."
(Japanese original by Tadashi Sano, Kyushu News Department)