Thursday, February 3, 2011

Setsubun: The Seasons Have Divided, So Now It's Spring!

Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!

Today the Japanese yelled, "Out with the devil! In with good fortune!" It's Setsubun, which means "season division." Big, bad winter is on the way out and spring is born. This year, Setsubun falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, so it's like New Year's Day all over again.

During the observance of Setsubun, Japanese traditionally put roasted soybeans in a wooden cup. Children throw those beans at an oni, or a demon, generally portrayed by the man of the house.

Here is an example of an oni:

Maru as oni from

That Maru. Is there no end to his wacky antics?

Anyway, I wrote about Setsubun last year; click here for those fabulous details. Sakura Hostel, located in Tokyo, has a nice write-up about the festivities in its blog, Asakusa Diary. For a comprehensive look at the Japanese observance of Setsubun, watch this 2010 video from YouTube user RoninDave. He went to several spots in Kyoto and Nara to see Setsubun celebrations and documents them nicely here.

So, out with bad fortune and in with good fortune. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

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