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Sapporo Snow Festival, HokkaidoEarly Feb.
More pictures here.
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Plum blossom-viewing picnickers
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Priests splash cold water over themselves at the Nose Myokenzan Betsuin in Sumida-ku, Tokyo
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Throw the beans farther!
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Setsubun bean throwing at Takahata Fudoson temple, Hino, Tokyo
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Setsubun bean throwing at Takahata Fudoson temple, Hino, Tokyo
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Even Hello Kitty threw beans for Setsubun at Takahata Fudoson temple, Hino, Tokyo
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The warrior monk costume is interesting. The collar makes them look bigger and more fearsome. 僧兵行列
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Setsubun bean throwing at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo with Tamao-chan, Ai-chan, and TochiazumaAi-chan was really cute and seemed to be having a great time throwing the beans.

Nakamura Tamao (actress), Fukuhara Ai (table tennis player) and Ozeki Tochiazuma (sumo wrestler)
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People pushing and shoving. Pretty dangerous...
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Daruma dolls for sale on the same day as Setsubun
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All hands
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Large daruma at Takahata Fudoson temple, Hino, Tokyo
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Even this was unusual since they were also throwing mikan tangerines. 豆・みかん(?)まき
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Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival, Ashikaga, Tochigi.
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The bean-throwing was disappointing at Yoroi Toshikoshi Shuko festival in Ashikaga, Tochigi. Few beans and they hardly reached anybody.
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Sacred Water (and Mud). On the the left, the water feeding the paddy is enclosed by a sacred rope. This makes the water (and mud) sacred.
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All the baby-carrying men must be careful not to slip and fall in the mud. Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.
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Mud Fight
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A Touch of Mud. One custom is to receive a touch of mud on your face.
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Mud Brings Happiness, at Warabi Hadaka Matsuri in Yotsukaido, Chiba.
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Photogenic shot of plum blossoms and a taiko bridge at Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo.
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I bagged this bag of beans. It actually hit me when I wasn't looking.
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Musashimaru and Dejima
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With a very impressive carving of animals, this was clearly the crowd favorite. "Zoo of the Northland" features endangered animals at the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival.
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Snow leopard, very impressive.
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An impressive snow sculpture of Michael Jackson drew crowds.
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Michael Jackson snow sculpture at the 2010 Sapporo Snow Festival. Coiled wiring is used for the hair dangling below his hat.
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Iolani Palace, a giant ice sculpture at the 61st Sapporo Snow Festival during Feb. 5-11, 2010. During the day, it has a translucent, blue look. This block is officially called the Mainichi Shimbun Ice Square
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The Iolani Palace ice sculpture was especially beautiful at night, lit up with colorful lights. It was built by over 250 members of the Japan Ice Sculpture Association, most of whom were chefs working at Sapporo hotels.
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Chibi Maruko-chan snow sculpture.
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I could only wonder if these girls knew the significance of the sculpture they were performing in front of.
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This yosakoi soran group was from Hokkaido University.
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Taga Taisha Shrine celebrates Setsubun on Feb. 3. For their Setsubun festival in 2009, they had three impressive demons (called oni) dance on stage and act as the evil oni to be chased away with soybeans.Feb. 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring according to the lunar calendar. So they throw beans at ogre to eliminate the evil of the previous year and bring in good fortune. Taga Taisha had impressive ogre (called oni in Japanese) dancers from Shimane Prefecture to act as the demons to chase away during the festival.
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The shrine priests continued their bean attack on the oni.
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Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内!)
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All the while, the PA system screamed, Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内!)
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Throwing mochi. The mochi was bare and dry, hard as a rock.
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It was especially crowded from 4 pm to 8 pm when they held the cai ching lion dances (saichin in Japanese 採青). Two guys in a Chinese lion danced at all the restaurants and shops in Chinatown. Four lions were there.
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The lion dance was most dramatic when the lion stood up with one guy standing on the shoulders of the other. They are actually martial artists. The lion dance movements are similar to martial arts.
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New Year's prayers at Ma Zhu Miao Temple Masobyo, Yokohama.
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Chinese New Year at Yokohama Chinatown.
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