“Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外！ 福は内！)”
This is what Japanese people chant while throwing beans called Irimame (いり豆) out the door of the house or at a family member wearing a monster mask in a ritual called Mamemaki (豆まき、bean-throwing) at Setsubun (節分). Setsubun will be celebrated on February 3, 2008 and it is a very sacred festival in Japan. Almost all Japanese people visit a temple to attract good luck for the year. Based on the Lunar Year, it is the ancient Japanese New Year.
Japanese Festivals and Seasonal Events have always fascinated me because of the predictability or maybe the unpredictability of the dates. Like, for example, does anyone think its a coincidence that New Year’s, Girls Day and Children’s Day fall on 1/1, 3/3 and 5/5? And since 7/7 is also Tanabata, is that also a coincidence? Is there like a holiday on 9/9? 11/11? Is there a reason even numbered dates aren’t festival dates? But like for Setsubun, it coincides with the Lunar New Year, I may be wrong, but don’t dates on the Lunar Year change – like the Chinese New Year? In Japan, though, Setsubun is always celebrated on February 3rd.
For those interested to watch the Setsubun Events (I heard a lot of celebrities turn up for these events…), see some of the links for February3, Sunday, below:
Asakusa Senso Temple (Mamemaki at 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 – the celebrity mamemaki) Station: Asakusa Station (7mins on foot from station)
Takahaka Fudousonkongo Temple (Mamemaki at 10:00, 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 16:00) Station: Takahakafudou Station (5mins on foot from station)
Ikegami Honmon Temple (Mamemaki at 13:00, 14:00, 15:00) Station: Nishi-Kamagome Station (13mins on foot from station)
Kawasaki Daishin (Mamemaki at 11:00, 13:30, 16:00) Station: Kawasaki Daishin (7mins on foot from the station)
Chiba Shrine (Mamemaki at 19:00 – 20:00) Station: Chiba Station (14mins on foot from the station)
Chichibu Shrine (Mamemaki at 10:30 – 15:00) Station: Chichibu Station (6mins on foot from the station)
Note: A lot of Japanese traditions have been well preserved because of their Period of Isolation (鎖国, Sakoku) . Many of the traditional Japanese people are proud of this fact, saying it was more beneficial to their country and their people. While I’m sure a lot of people would like to debate that fact, I believe that in a way, Japan was lucky they were able to preserve so much of their ancient traditions. This particular celebration dates back to the Muromachi Era (1392-1573).
Images Via: Let’s Enjoy Tokyo