Monday, March 9, 2015

Setsubun (Bean Throwing Festival)

Setsubun is a bean throwing festival held every February 3rd. It's the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar. Setsubun is about getting rid of evil and bringing in fortune. People throw beans out windows and doors of their homes and also go to shrines and temples. We went to Seto-Jinja Shrine to participate in the festivities. When we lived here from 2008-2010 I took the girls to Hasedera, a temple in Kamakura. It's not a national holiday, but it's celebrated throughout Japan. Even Google celebrated...see the screen capture from my computer below. 

We hopped on the train as soon as school was out and stopped at a convenience store to pick up oni (ogre or monster) masks and some beans. You’re supposed to eat the number of beans to match your age for good luck and fortune. As much as I love the roasted soy beans, I didn't eat 35…I did have eight though. The girls each ate their age in beans and were sure to count aloud while doing so.

We got to the shrine a few minutes after they had started but were still able to get a good spot to stand in. The girls were so excited to catch beans and after a few minutes remember doing it before. We went to a small shrine, but at the larger ones in Tokyo they'll have sumo wrestlers and celebrities throwing the beans. They're in little packages that fit in my palm. On some packages are stickers...if one you catch has a sticker you win a prize. We didn't win a prize, but, to be honest, it's about the experience and culture submersion for us. I think it's important. 

We didn't catch any beans during the first set. A gentleman in front of us gave the girls one packet each. So sweet and generous of him! There were bows all around and hugs too. While the priests and important members of the shrine were throwing beans the MC was yelling "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" That translates into Out with demons! In with fortune! You'll hear him if you watch the 45 second video below. If you subscribe and get the posts in your email you may need to click the link at the top of the message to view the video on the website. 

Making an offering & prayer
We were there for maybe 90 minutes and had a wonderful time. People were so kind and welcoming to us. A few even translated for us to let us know what would be happening, when and what it's meaning was. The later it got the more kids arrived. At the end the adults moved to the back and all the kids were in front. On the way out we bought the traditional Setsubun food, eho-maki. They're sold at grocery and convenience stores too. When people eat them they face the direction that's good luck for that particular year. This year it was west-southwest.   

Our beans, roll and masks at home


Kathryn Everett said...

That looks like a lot of fun!

Katie said...

It was lots of fun, Kathryn! We like to go out and experience things we wouldn't see or be able to do in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

I have written a lot about Setsubun over the years!