The Setusbun is coming…it’s the changing of the seasons and it’s celebrated every year as part of the spring festival(haru matsuri). Demons and Oni alike will soon be running scared. It’s going to be a terrible time for them as the ritual cleansing of evil from the past year will soon be upon them. It’s also going to be a horrible time for all their lurking friends as we drive away the disease-bringing evil spirits for another year to come. The ritual for all of this uproar and dread for the demons is at the heart of Setsubun and is called the mamemaki. It’s a messy family ritual full of chants and well, soybeans.
Mamemaki is preformed by the toshiotoko(年男) of the household. The toshiotoko is the male in the family who happens to have been born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac, or the male head of the household, if there isn’t a corresponding member. He is to be feared. Roasted soybeans called irimame are thrown out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni demon mask, while the throwers are chanting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!”. Which means something like, “Demons be gone or out! Let Luck in!” The beans are supposed to purify the home by driving the evil spirits out that might bring misfortune and bad health with them. And that’s not all there is also the eating of soybeans, specifically one for every year of your life with one extra bean for luck for the coming year.
Setsubun is also sometimes referred to as the Lunar New Years’ Eve and will be celebrated Feb 2nd at midnight through the 3rd. So party till you drop all your beans! Happy Setsubun!