Why I love Setsubun
Today, in Japan, it’s Setsubun (節分). This is one of my favorite Japanese holidays.
It’s a holiday where you let out the old year, and bring in the new season. You throw soybeans at people (or dogs) wearing demon masks while yelling 鬼は外！福は内！(Demons out! Good luck in!). You then eat your age in soybeans. And to continue the eating-love, you get a big fat roll of maki-sushi, sit facing this year’s lucky direction (south-south-east) and eat it all in silence.
Weird that it’s one of my faves? Maybe, but let me tell you why.
It was 2008 and I had arrived in Osaka for my study abroad. We had a few days of living in the dorms before our host families would come to pick us up. It was Feb 3rd. My host family came to get me and one of the first things we did was go to the grocery store. I was already awkward, and this was only increased when we picked up a big bag of soybeans with a demon mask attached to it.
So imagine my surprise when we get home and the first thing we do is put the demon mask on their pet dog and throw soy beans at him. What? What are we doing? Whatever, ENJOY IT! The dog, choco, certainly did. Then we ate our age in dry beans as my host mom arranged the chairs in the living room in an odd fashion. She told me to sit and handed me a sushi roll. Look this way! She said to me. This was SO WEIRD. Silently! She yelled to everyone, and we ate our rolls in silence.
It was my first introduction to real-Japan, and it was always live on.
Tonight, after work, I’ll introduce my hubby to Setsubun…
as I throw SO MANY beans at him.