The Setsubun festival at Fudougaoka Fudouson Souganji Temple in Kazo is famous throughout Kanto and beyond. It is probably Saitama’s most famous setsubun-kai? So much so, champion sumo wrestlers, even yokozuna have participated in the mamemaki bean throwing in the past. It has the reputation of being one of the wildest setsubun festivals in all of Japan. Apart from the common practice of mamemaki, throwing beans to ward off demons, they also have a very unique and popular ceremony involving three oni, Japanese type ogre or demon.
Souganji Setsubun Festival
Fudogao Souganji / Soganji / Sogan Temple – hereafter Souganji – is one of the three major Fudo Temples. They have celebrated the setsubun festival at Souganji for approximately 400 years.
The ceremony involves three demons as opposed to the usual two. One demon dresses in red, one in blue and one in black. The demon in red carries a torch, the demon in blue bears a sword and the demon in black holds a bat. The red demon’s torch is approximately three meters long and weighs about 30 kilograms. They say if the sparks of the red demons torch land on you, you will be rid of evil!
For the ‘mamemaki’ bean throwing ceremony, “toshi” men and women throw out beans and other goodies. While praying for good luck, health and fortune, and protection from evil for the crowd below. In addition, there are lots of other type of festivities on the day too such as a parade, music, ritual ceremonies and festival booths. Moreover, the festivities carry on into the night. They really make a party of Setsubun at Souganji!
The festival is held on the 3rd of February every year. Except in 2021 when the festival was cancelled on account of the Coronavirus. In 2022, the festival was initially scheduled as normal, but eventually was completely downsized. The festival at Souganji normally starts at 11 am and finishes at 10 pm. The schedule for 2023:
- Oni performance / bean throwing: 12 noon, 4 pm and 8.30 pm
- Chigo Nerikuyou: 11 am
- Fire brigade band: 11.15 am and 12.45 pm
In a normal year, but currently not scheduled for 2023:
- High School Brass Band: 1.30 pm
- Local (school / preschool) music performances: 2.30 pm and 4.45 pm
Setsubun Festival Souganji Information
Event: Souganji Setsubun Festival 不動ヶ岡不動尊總願寺節分会
Date: Annually on Setsubun, which most often falls on February 3rd (very occasionally, like once every 124 years, setsubun falls on the 2nd!)
Time: 11 am to 10 pm
Venue: Fudougaoka Fudouson Souganji Temple 不動ヶ岡不動尊總願寺 2 Chome-9-18 Fudooka, Kazo, Saitama 347-0054. Phone: +81480610031. (Map at the bottom of the post).
By public transport: Take a bus from Tobu Isesaki Line Kazo Station, bound for “Kazo Garage” and alight at the garage. The temple is about a three minute walk from the garage.
By car: 15 minutes by car from Tohoku Expressway Kazo Interchange. Parking for 500 cars normally, but during the festival parking is restricted.
You can find even more Setsubun events scheduled in 2023 here.
Official website which has lots of photos showcasing this exceptional festival.