Lunar New Year festival ushers in good luck

Beans and a blessing are how I rang in the Lunar New Year. I’m a little involved with a Nu`uanu Shinto temple, which annually invites the public to enjoy a free, traditional Japanese Lunar New Year’s greeting at its annual “Setsubun” event.

On a windy Sunday, I brought Olivia and her friend to the Daijingu Temple of Hawaii. Reverend Akihiro Okada marked the start of the spring with a half hour long Shinto ritual in the temple that involved a lot of chanting, followed by blessing each person in the room, congregation member or not.

Ceremony photographed with Temple’s permission

I thought it was beautiful, because I like ancient ritual. However, modern demands required I only sit in for five minutes before having to go back out and supervise two children in the adjacent playground. There was no way a couple of nine-year-olds were going to listen to a man chanting in Japanese for any amount of time.

Reverend holding box of beans

I went back at the end of the service because I wanted to see the bean throwing. After the service, he directed the audience outside, where he offered everyone an envelope of roasted soybeans and explained we all had to toss them in the air, while yelling in Japanese “In with fortune! Out with evil!” to ward off bad spirits. It’s a centuries old food-based custom. 

Gold-flecked sake

After, he opened up the Social Hall downstairs for people to enjoy refreshments, music, and customary sake.

So my slate is wiped clean from evil from the past year, and warded against harm for the coming year. Year of the Rooster: Bring it on!

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