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Saturday, February 3

Setsubun is here!

In other words… Spring is here! At least in Japan anyway. We celebrated today in a traditional Japanese way by participating in one of the Setsubun practices that greatly appealed to me – mamemaki or bean throwing.

First, let me tell you that Setsubun is all about celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For Japan, this day is celebrated on February 3rd. On this special day, it is thought to be a time to chase out the devil and bring in good luck for the year. To do this, the male head of the household accepts the role of the devil by donning a Oni’s (devil’s) mask which is meant for the children but we did it in our house because I am a big kid and simply could not resist. The mask I purchased with the bag of the beans for 100 yen (84.7 cents at that day’s exchange rate) at a local mini market. I’m sure you can guess who was not overjoyed with the idea of this mask business but he did it anyway to keep me pleased. Kimono Hubby headed out through each door in the house and I had the pleasure of throwing beans at him while chanting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which roughly translates to “Devils out! Luck in!” The whole ceremony is symbolic of purifying the house for the year.

The beans are pan-heated soybeans of which you are supposed pick up and to eat the number that correlates to your age plus one… for good luck of course. The beans… meh. But I ate them because I’ll do anything that seems remotely superstitious. Am crazy that way. Kimono Hubby had his share too. All I can say is thank goodness we only have to eat them once a year.

The date of Setsubun is astronomically derived and coincides with the Lunar calendar. This year’s lunar New Year is on February 18th. Historically, the dates are sometimes closer which has leant to the meaning that Setsubun is part of the Lunar New Year. So we technically get two New Year’s in Japan. Setsubun rituals are also performed at Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, just as rituals occur at them on the actual New Year’s. They are completely different of course but I think this bean throwing business ridding a home of evil spirits was tons more fun than watching the bell banging to rid one of their egos. It could just be that I got to throw things at Kimono Hubby and he had to stand there and take it like the Devil he is.

Whatever it was, Spring is here and our home is purged of its evil. At least for a day or two.


Aime said...

Hello Kimono Karen,

I found your blog when I did a google search for Kofu ikebana, and I'm hooked on your posts! I really enjoy your blog and I see we have lots in common! I live in Negishi in Yokohama, and I've just started ikebana lessons last month. Anyway, just wanted to drop a comment to say hello!

best wishes,

Anonymous said...

wow, the pics of KH are killing me. I know how much he enjoyed being the model. tell him he gave me a great laugh!

Anonymous said...

haha..scott says kimono hubby looks like a cross between a rabbit and a clown in that mask!!! too funny!!

Heather Meadows said...