For the past few weeks while shopping at the supermarkets and conbini stores Ive been noticing a lot of devil masks and peanuts for sale. I had NO idea what this was for...
Then I was at my Japanese class last Monday night when all of a sudden some of the other teachers came running out in devil masks and started throwing peanuts at us!!!!!! shouting "oni wa soto! fuku wa uchi!" which roughly translates to "demons out!!! luck in!!!!" huh???
I was then told that every year on Feb 3rd the Japanese have Setsubun to celebrate that spring is coming.... This celebration is also accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and to also drive away the evil spirits and demons for the year to come. This special ritual is mamemaki or bean throwing! hahaha
A member of the family wears an oni demon/devil mask while they throw peanuts around the house yelling "oni wa soto! fuku wa uchi!"
In Hokkaido they throw shelled peanuts... but when I was talking to one of my fellow teachers who is from Southern Japan he said he was shocked when he moved to Hokkaido and saw people throwing peanuts! He told me that in the rest of Japan they throw soybeans. But I guess in Hokkaido there's too much darn snow so if they threw soybeans they would just get lost in the snowbanks.
Another way they celebrate Setsubun is to eat ehoumaki which means "lucky direction roll." Ehoumaki is a HUGE sushi roll.... fat and long.... each year you point in a certain direction depending on the year's lucky zodiac compass direction (this year it was North East-East) Hrmmm... and then you eat the roll all in one go without saying a word.
I had no idea which direction NE was so I just took a huge bite of my ehoumaki then spun around a bit, took another bite, spun around a bit more and so on! hahaha.... Hopefully the devil didn't notice.
I also threw peanuts inside and outside of my house for good luck... but I keep finding them and accidentally smashing the shells... whoops....
I can't wait to see what the next festival will be!!!!