I was in attendance at the Setsubun festival in Kyoto. It is a celebration of the New Year in which people are encouraged to bring things to burn in a large fire. This act symbolizes the “letting go” of the old to make way for the new. I arrived very late, near midnight, the booths and foodstands were closing up, but the fire was still burning.
Blazing ahead of me at the top of a long flight of stairs, I saw a mound of smoldering ashes surrounded by a host of drunken and jovial onlookers.
The podcast is a snapshot of this moment. As I walk around the fire voices in many languages can be heard describing the scene in one word or phrase, while my footsteps sound in gravel.