Monday, February 04, 2008

Out with the Ogre!

Yesterday was Setstubun in Japan. Setsubun literally means the dividing of the seasons so according to the Japanese calendar today is the first day of spring! Hah! Not by the look of all the snow we have this morning!

Since the new year (by the luna calendar) begins with spring, traditionally the Japanese clean the house of evil spirits on Setsubun and welcome in good fortune for the coming year. A fun custom that most Japanese follow is to throw toasted soybeans at the chosen "ogre" and chase him out of the house. Dad usually get elected for this job and he dons an ogre mask while the rest of the family throw soybeans (traditionally carried in a small wooden box) and yell,

"Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" "Out with the ogre! In with luck!"

Last week at the pre-school all the children were busily making their ogre masks to take home and have their fathers wear yesterday. Great ogres! Even some with hands you'll notice!

After the beans are thrown you are supposed to brush them off (at least the ones that didn't end up in the mud and snow) and eat the same amount of beans as your age. Soy beans don't have a whole lot of taste but I guess the children are willing to eat 5 or 6 to bring good fortune into the house. My age? I'd need a bowl to hold all my beans so I quietly let the custom pass yesterday. I did buy some sweet bean cakes (that's stretching the meaning a bit far) and Tetsu and I enjoyed those with some hot tea.


Quilt Pixie said...

sounds like a fun custom, except for the being "stoned" part :-)

CONNIE W said...

Your posts are always interesting and informative. Thanks for continuing to educate us, your readers. The masks look quite nice, for ogres, that is.

Marilyn R said...

I love the ogre masks! What imaginations children have!

meggie said...

I loved reading this post.
Great masks the children made.
I am not much of a sweet tooth, but I do love sweet bean cakes!

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

I love those masks - I want all of them. so adorable. I can see making a really cute quilt with those faces. Out with the ogre - in with good luck!

Shelina said...

Japanese people do such fun things. I think though that the person who just did the spring cleaning might be mad about beans being thrown in the house. Although beans being thrown outside the house would just be too gross to eat.