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Geisha join traditional bean-throwing Setsubun event at Kyoto shrine after COVID hiatus

"Maiko" apprentice geisha from the Miyagawacho district throw beans at the Setsubun festival at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward on Feb. 2, 2023. (Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)=Click/tap photo for more images.

KYOTO -- The Setsubun festival began at a shrine in this ancient Japan capital on Feb. 2, with geisha, known locally as "geiko," and their "maiko" apprentices joining a traditional bean-throwing ceremony for the first time in three years.

    The festival at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward, marking the day before the beginning of spring in the old lunisolar calendar, was held with geisha and maiko from the Pontocho and Miyagawacho entertainment districts appearing on the shrine's Buden stage in front of the main hall in gorgeous attire. After dedicating Japanese dances to the gods, they cheerfully threw bags of beans into the crowd. The many shrine visitors reached for the "lucky beans" expressing wishes for good health.

    Manaka Ishikawa, 20, a university student who managed to get some of the beans, said, "I came here not knowing that there was a Setsubun event, and it was my first time to see the Japanese dance. It surely will be a good memory for me of reaching 20 (the traditional age of adulthood in Japan) this year."

    On Feb. 3, geiko and maiko were scheduled to perform dances and throw beans from 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., respectively. The event was canceled in 2021 and 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    (Japanese original by Yoko Minami, Kyoto Bureau)

    In Photos: Geisha throw 'lucky beans' at Kyoto shrine's Setsubun festival

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