Setsubun means “division of seasons” and this day was the end of winter according to the old Lunar Calendar.
People throw roasted soybeans inside and outside their houses with a cry of “Fuku wa uchi, Oni wa soto!” meaning “Good luck in! Devils out!” - photo and text by saito0923 on Flickr

Maiko Mameroku was throwing beans in Yasaka Shrine yesterday. And I must say she looked amazing! This kimono is to die for… and do you notice a little change in her outfit? ^^ She is now wearing a white collar, little kanzashi with simple kushi (instead of a “bridge” of flowers) in her hair which means that she is already a senior maiko! Congratulations, Roku san :3

Setsubun 2014: maiko Katsutomo with oshiyun hairstyle by aasiain on Instagram

Setsubun is a winter festival for dealing with evil spirits and bringing some luck for the New Year. During Setsubun people take part in “obake” - literally “a ghost” but also “a disguise”. This is just a dressing up as various characters just like they do for Halloween.

Geiko and maiko dress up, too! Maiko usually style their hair in unusual and ancient hairstyles (i.e. osome mage, suisha, oshiyun, hime etc.) and often wear kimono in hime (“princess”) style ^^ Geiko, on the other hand, dress up as whoever they want to - movie stars, historical figures, even… men! They perform funny mini skits at every ozashiki and gain free drinks afterwards.

During the day people gather at the Yasaka Shrine to watch maiko performing special dances and throwing lucky beans into the crowd.

Today, maiko from Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi appeared on the stage.

Text by geisha-kai.


Geisha Hairstyling, ca. 1927

“Silent black & white archival film clip from "Japan: Promotional and Theatrical Footage, ca. 1927”. The full film, which is 17 minutes long, includes segments from what are believed to be a theatrical film, a promotional film and, possibly, amateur film - all of unknown origin.

This clip is from the promotional film. It shows a Geisha having her hair styled. This material is from the collections at the Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution.“ (source)

"It looks like this maiko/hangyoku (apprentice geisha) came in wearing the oshiyun hairstyle, and when she left she was wearing the ofuku hairstyle. Oshiyun is nowadays rarely seen: only on Setsubun and sometimes before a maiko becomes a full-fledged geisha will she wear it. Ofuku on the other hand is a pretty common hairstyle and is worn by all senior maiko.” (source)