oni in pilgrims clothing

oni in pilgrims clothing

While not an official holiday Setsubun is celebrated every February 3rd as part of the Lunar New Year celebration in Japan.  Though the Japanese will typically celebrate the Gregorian New Year as well traditions that held for generations still are practiced today. Setsubun can be thought of as a New Years Eve with the next day being the start of Spring and a new year.

As with many new year traditions the customs preformed are to assure good luck for the coming year while chasing away the bad luck of last year.  The most common tradition is the throwing of roasted soy beans at home while saying “oni wa so to, fu ku wa uchi”, translated to “get out demons, come in happiness”.  This is done by either throwing the beans out the front door, around the house or at a person wearing a oni, demon, demon mask.  It is not uncommon to see children in masks throwing the beans at one another in the street repeating the saying.  Though not just a children’s game, this ceremony is also carried out with in the temples of Japan by the monks there.  It is also said to bring good luck if one picks up a number of the beans that have been thrown that corresponds to their age and eats them.

Not Japanese but roasted soy beans none the less

Not Japanese but roasted soy beans none the less

Another tradition is the eating of a special sushi roll while facing in the lucky direction based on the year.  This custom has become wide spread but was once a regional tradition.  To truly get the luck a person is said to have to eat the whole roll without saying a word.

Links:
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setsubun

Other: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2285.html
http://www2.gol.com/users/stever/setsubun.htm
http://gojapan.about.com/cs/japanesefestivals/a/setsubun.htm

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