If you have visited or lived in Japan, you are probably aware that the Japanese have very high awareness of the various seasons throughout the year. There are specific foods to be eaten and activities that have special meanings for each particular season. The 3rd of February marks the end of winter, and Setsubun (節分) is celebrated widely across Japan. Setsubun, or the Sping equinox literally translates to seasonal division.
On this day, Japanese people perform a special ritual, Mamemaki (豆撒き) that is supposed to get rid of all the evil and unwanted illness of the previous year. Beans (豆) are scattered (撒く) to chase away the nasty spirits and demons. People will chant ‘Oni wa soto, Fuku wa nai’ (鬼は外、福は内) which means ‘Out with the demons, in with good luck!’ In addition, Eho maki (恵方巻), a special type of sushi roll is also prepared and eaten while facing in the “lucky” direction of the year. (This year’s lucky direction was South-South East).
We had some brave volunteers who pretended to be the Oni, or the demons! And following the tradition, they of course have to be pelted with beans by everyone else! All in the name of luck, fortune and fun of course!