it’s setsubun (bean throwing time)

So what was yesterday, February 3? In the states, it was Super Bowl XLVII and the most memorable day for Beyonce??

1. The Super Bowl is the National Football League’s (NFL)  annual championship game. This year the two teams were the American Football Conference (AFC) Champions Baltimore Ravens and the National Football Conference (NFC) Champions San Francisco 49ers. 2. Beyonce brought her A game for this spectacular halftime show including her old bandmates from Destiny’s Child. Loved every sec!!

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But across the globe here in Japan, yesterday was Setsubun (節分).  sSetsubun is a festival on the day before the start of spring. It has a distinctive ritual called mame-maki (豆まき) which cleanses all the evil from last year, and drives away all the evil spirits from this year. Mame-maki literally means bean throwing, and that is just what we do. We throw roasted soybeans called fuku mame (副豆), which means lucky beans.

The head of the household usually throws fuku mame out the door, or off the balcony and yells “Demons get out, Luck come in!” (鬼は外、福は内!oni ha soto, fuku ha soto.) or they throw fuku mame at a member in the family wearing a red demon (鬼 oni) mask.

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I did hear some screams in my neighborhood, so it’s safe to say the tradition is still alive and thriving. Mr T told me he was out walking his dog, and suddenly got hit on the head with beans hearing some lady screaming “oni ha soto, fuku ha uchi.” It could totally scare you, if you didn’t know what was happening. But recently, more and more people go to temples and shrines to celebrate.

The temples and shrines invite sumo wrestles, kabuki actors, enka singers, and other special guests to throw fuku mame in special envelopes. Along with the lucky beans, they also throw money, sweets, and other prizes. People will push and shove to catch these things and it can get a little crazy.

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The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by dispeling evil spirits. We eat our age in fuku mame to ensure good luck in the new year. In some regions they eat their age plus 1 more. As I get older, I have to eat one more bean each year, I would be happy if I liked the taste of these beans…..too bad I dont. hahah. Oh and when you buy the fuku mame at the store they usually give you an oni mask too.

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To make new traditions, and attract customers, now super markets are starting to throw fuku mame, fruits and veggies, and other goodies from inside the store. Unfortunately, my neighborhood supermarket hasn’t caught on yet. But I know if and when they do, I will be pushing and shoving my way to catch some food. hahahha.

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Besides eating fuku mame, there is a tradition of eating eho-maki (恵方巻き) which is a larger uncut rolled sushi. eho-maki means lucky direction roll. You are supposed to eat the eho-maki facing the year’s lucky compass direction. I have no idea what that direction is, so for me, as long as I eat an eho-maki I will be lucky.  The contents of the eho-maki varies. It should NOT be cut into pieces, it should be eaten whole.

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So what sort of traditions of throwing things, does your culture have? (ie in western culture, they throw rice at the bride and groom after the wedding ceremony). Well hopefully you all enjoyed Beyonce’s half time performance and then yelled and threw beans to drive out evil spirits and welcome good fortune–what a busy Super Bowl Sunday. hahaha. Hopefully you and I will have a lucky new year!


ms fancy pants tokyo



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