February 6, 2010
Bringing In the Luck
Setsubun(節分) is celebrated on February 3rd here in Japan.
Setsubun means the 'start of a new season' so it would mean the day before the start of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. But as spring is considered the 'start of the new year,' Setsubun now refers to the day before spring and many shrines and temples have a Setsubun Festival on the 3rd or the closest weekend.
This is at Tokorozawa Shrine. One of the events at the Setsubun Festival is the 'Mame Maki' which means 'Bean Throwing.' This is a tradition that is said to have come from China during the Heian Era.
What happens is, at a shrine, certain people would throw roasted soybeans or peanuts out at the crowd shouting 'Fuku Wa Uchi!' meaning 'Luck Come In!' as the crowd of people gathered there would try to catch the beans. Some different shrines would also shout 'Oni Wa Soto!' which means 'Demons Out!' but, although I'm not sure of the reason, we don't say that here at the Tokorozawa Shrine.
Catching the beans brings luck to your home, so as you can see, these people are pretty serious about catching those beans. But they're also having fun out there. It was really funny seeing all the old grandpa's and grandma's pushing and shoving their way to the front. I'm sure even if they don't catch very many, just participating in this event gives them the energy to live long and prosper!
I was snapping away on my camera but still managed to catch one. Yay!