Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Beans, beans the....defenders against evil????

No...not these....
...THESE beans...roasted soy beans, those are.
Protectors of households? Defenders of evil? Yep. That's what the Japanese believe.

February 3 is Setsubun, the official day before winter moves into spring and all over Japan, in houses, schools, day cares, shrines...pretty much anywhere there are people, they are performing the customary mame-make, or "bean scattering" to drive out bad influences and welcoming happiness and good luck. (Actually, this is more like "bean throwing", or that's the way it was here at Kamp Kuroiwa!)

This "demon chasing" ritual is done while shouting "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" (Out with the demon/bad luck, in with the good luck!).


Here, Issei and the K-man are getting the demon masks ready, that came in our package of beans (you know...to make this all seem more "official"!!).

Little Demon.....


Bigger Demon......and Mom ready to "fire away"!!

Part of the tradition also says that you are to eat the same number of soy beans as your age...plus one, for extra good luck!! In the clean-up, the boys both did really good impersonations of puppies scrounging for food.....obviously that "5-second drop rule" didn't apply to beans thrown around the house!! They did a pretty good job of picking up the beans....and we did throw them all over the place....we need all the good luck we can get this year!! The K-man and I may need to go to a temple for some extra praying because neither one of us actually ate as many beans as we were supposed to. After about 10 or 15...they tend to lose their mmmm-good-ness!!! (The boys picked up the slack and ate the ones we should have eaten!! They should be covered in the 'good luck' department for quite a while!)



At shrines and temples, many people gather for this ceremony....here are the oni, or demons from a shrine in Kyoto.



At these ceremonies, people who were born in the corresponding year (remember, this is the year of the ox or cow!) and many special guests (political figures, TV personalities, movie stars, sumo wrestlers, for example) are invited to throw small packages of beans to the waiting crowds of people. I went to a shrine a few years ago and I was amazed at how crazy Japanese people can get trying to catch the small packages zinging through the air.


**A shrine in Osaka.**

**Sumo wrestlers taking part in the ceremony in Tokyo.**
Though I might complain at times... "oh it's that time of year again", all in all,
I think that this is one of the things that I like best about living in this culture...there is such a sense of community...of doing things together...old and young alike...because it's "what we do".
As this country is truly an "aging society", it is up to the older generation to teach the younger one about traditions, so they continue...so they don't fade away with the passing of the older people.
Coming from America, where there are so many different cultures, it really is hard to say "This is something everyone does." Traditions in America? Yes, we have them, but many are our own family's way of doing things or they might depend on which religion you belong to, even less are ones passed down from ancestors.
Living in a culture where some of the things we do have been passed down for hundreds of years is comforting, in a way. Plus, it gives my children more of a sense of who they are. This culture, combined with the western one I try to incorporate into their lives as much as possible will (I hope!) make them to be more aware of others around them and more open to new ideas, while keeping the things around them that are important, safe.
So....go and get some beans...I'm thinking any kind will work...toss/scatter/throw them around the room and get rid of those bad vibes....invite the good and wonderful into your home!!
(Just don't forget where you threw them so you can clean them up later!!)

10 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I really enjoy learning all about Japanese culture from you. A tradition of throwing things in your house, makes me nervous though.

I'm the person who, when watching a movie where the husband has scattered rose petals around the bedroom to set a romantic tone, thinks, "Who is going to vacuum that all up?!"

Janet said...

Those sumo wrestlers look so pretty in pink! And I can remember getting hit with some of those beans...ouch, ouch!

smalltownmom said...

Thanks, Debbie. I love these glimpses of Japan!

jan in nagasaki said...

i came to Japan in January, so setsubun was my first "matsuri". On the way home from work we noticed a crowd of people and lots of light at Suwa Shrine and stopped and looked around. It's a special one for me because it was "my first". Ironically, there were no beans scattered at our house this year. Nobody mentioned it and nothing was done....hopefully we have enough bean karma in the bank....

might need to make corn bread today because of that first picture!! DROOL!!!!

Helena said...

I could do with some beans. Don't know where I could find such cool masks as your boys are wearing though.

3rdEyeMuse said...

these glipses at life at your place are soooooo wonderfully fantastic & inspiring.

may all the beans be uber-defenders of evil & hold 100X the normal amount of luck!

Cruise Mom said...

Fascinating. I love learning about other cultures - it helps me justify the time I spend on blogs!

Ms. Lea 李女士 said...

My favorite kinds of Beans are Coffee Beans! I was going to cry if you said you throw them over there!!! Just can't get enough of them! Anyway, I love the glimpses into the culture that you are living there. It really is fascinating!

Karen MEG said...

Great shots of Japanese tradition and culture, Debbie. Throwing the beans, that would get crazy around here!!

All those tooth fairy posts below, made me just crack up. I can't get the picture of "the Rock" wearing a tutu, out of my head LOL!

San Diego Momma said...

I also love reading these days in the life. How fascinating about the beans! I did not know.
I could stand to throw a few, I think...