Oni wa Soto! Fuku wa Uchi!

Mask and Beans on Setsubun

Bean throwing. No really. Nigh on bean pelting. In public.

Still making no sense?

Alright, February the third is one of the Setsubun days, marking the end of one part of the Japanese lunar calendar and coming the day before the ‘Spring’ cycle. Many traditions around Japan exist for this cycle change but one popular ritual is called mamemaki (bean throwing). It’s actually a ritual cleansing at the end of the cold cycle to drive out demons, ogres and misfortune generally, and usher in some prosperity for the coming cycle.

It’s not uncommon for someone to put on an ogre mask (unfortunate Dads often seem to receive this honour) whilst others pelt beans at them until they are forced out of the apartment by frenzied offspring/spouses/passers-by. Another facet is that people will often eat the number of beans corresponding to their age, which I’m sure sparks off even more arguments, which can increase risk of accidental ‘injury by bean’. Be careful out there people.

As for the post title, that’s the chant that you can do if you like – “Out with Ogres, in with happiness!”, which, later on is replaced by “Who’s cleaning up all these beans??!?”

You can search on search etc. for references, but a useful page is here.

Mask and Beans on Setsubun
Oni mask and Beans