Friday, February 4, 2011


Yesterday was Setsubun, or the Bean-Throwing Ceremony. On this day, Japanese cleanse themselves of the former year and try to drive away evil spirits. In order to do this, they throw beans our their windows at demons! In supermarkets and convenient stores, you can find bean sets like the ones below:

I've always thought Setsubun was kind of exciting because everyone participates, even adults. And they just decide at some point during the day to start throwing the beans. Apparently, some families actually schedule an appointment with nearby temples to send "demons" to their houses. The demons pull up and knock so you know they've arrived, and then it's time to get to business.

Luckily, I was fully stocked with beans because -- to my surprise! -- an oni, or demon, came to our apartment!

See how surprised I am?

You're supposed to shout the equivalent of "DEMONS OUT! LUCK IN," but in my fright I only shouted, "NO!"

After all the commotion, I settled down to eat some of the leftover beans. You are supposed to count out a bean for each year you've been alive, and add one for good luck in the next year.

A more recent addition to Setsubun tradition is eating eho-maki, an uncut sushi roll. While eating it, you're supposed to face the lucky direction for the year (this year it's south east) and refrain from speaking or laughing. Which -- to me -- sounds like an invitation for giggles! For now, we'll stick with the crunchy leftover soy beans.

Hope we've made ourselves some good luck!


Unknown said...

how interesting..thanks for sharing this!

Shannon said...

Love hearing your stories! Cute photos, too.

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