The Setsubun Mamemaki train is coming back in 2023, for the first time in three years. It is a relatively new event that had only been running for three years before the pandemic, but it was very popular and a great way to celebrate setsubun. The setsubun mamemaki train is run by Chichibu Railway and it departs for Chichibu from Kumagaya City.
Setsubun is an unique to Japan festival celebrated on February 3rd annually. As part of the festival you throw beans at “oni” Japanese ogres or demons, to scare them away. The bean throwing is called “mamemaki” and is a pivotal element of the setsubun festivities. Japanese “oni” participate in the Setsubun mamemaki train.
The information is not yet on the official website, but has been published in Chichibu Railway’s monthly magazine ‘Palette’. The train will run on the day of setsubun, so February 3rd, which is a Friday in 2023. There is no charge for the event, but of course you have to pay to ride the train. Until the 2023 online poster is ready, I have left the last one published (in 2020) below.
Setsubun Mamemaki Train
There will be oni at some of the Chichibu line train stations en route. In previous years, the stations were a closely guarded secret, so presumably it will be the same in 2023. If you ride the setsubun mamemaki train you are given “mame” beans to throw at the oni. Then, when the oni appear you can throw beans at the oni on the station’s platform. Accordingly the train usually stops in the participating stations for about nine minutes. If you are going to the end of the line, Chichibu station, mascot oni characters will be waiting to guide passengers to Chichibu Shrine where there are even more festivities.
The mamemaki train itself is one of Chichibu railway special design trains. For the setsubun event they have a special limited edition headmark on the train. You don’t need to register in advance to participate. Reception for the event is at Chichibu Railway Kumagaya station where you will receive the beans and a certificate of participation. In addition, participants are entered into a lottery.
The train time has not yet been released for 2023. In previous years, they boarded the train at Kumagaya station at 11.14 am. It normally makes five stops before reaching the terminal Chichibu station at 1.11 pm. The stops are Takekawa, Yorii, Nogami, Nagatoro and Minano.
Setsubun Mamemaki Information 2023
Event: Chichibu Railway Setsubun Mamemaki Train 秩父鉄道節分豆まきトレイン
Date: February 3rd 2023
Time: to be confirmed, around 11 am.
Cost: the event is free, but you have to purchase a train ticket. It costs 880 yen for an adult and 440 yen for a child, from Kumagaya Station to Chichibu station.
Location: from Kumagaya Station to Chichibu Station, on the Chichibu Railway Line
There are several other events being held in Nagatoro and Chichibu at the same time, including other setsubun events. The wintersweet is also in bloom and accessible from the Nagatoro station on the Chichibu railway line.
The official setsubun mamemaki train event web page for 2023 not yet available. Featured image from the Palette Magazine and the rest of the images from the official Chichibu Railway website in 2019 / 2020.