Saturday, February 03, 2007

Japanese ritual

I just finished vacuuming my house. There were roasted soy beans scattered all across the floors in each room. No, our house isn't normally so messy. Today (or yesterday) is called "Setsubun" (seasonal division). It is celebrated one day before the start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar. It is not a National Holiday. It's more like Halloween in the United States. From around the 13th century it became a custom to drive away evil spirits with the strong smell of burning sardines. Fortunately for me, nowadays, soy beans are thrown around one's house while shouting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (Devil's out! Happiness in!"). After this, you pick up and eat the number of beans according to how old you are. I cheated a little. I just picked them and ate them out of the bag, which by the way was given to me by my nice student Kenji. And actually they tasted quite good, all 41 of them! :) 
Have a look at Setsubun festival at Matsubara Shrine in Odawara: