By: fiore

Feb 03 2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Photography, Travels

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Focal Length:6.2mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon PowerShot A1100 IS

Asakusa, Tokyo, 2009

February 3rd (or 4th) is “Setsubun.” “Setsubun” literally means, “seasonal division.” In the Japanese lunar calendar, the first day of each of the four seasons was given a name, “risshun (spring), rikka (summer), risshu (fall), and rittou (winter)”. The day before the first day of each season used to be called, “setsubun.” Today, “setsubun” only indicates the day before the first day of spring (risshun), since it was considered the beginning of a New Year in the old calendar. On setsubun there is special ritual called, “mamemaki (bean-throwing)” to expel demons and invite fortune.

Roasted soybeans (called “fortune beans” (福豆, fuku mame) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the people say “Demons out! Luck in!” (鬼は外! 福は内!, Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!) and slam the door,although this is not common practice in households anymore and most people will attend a shrine or temple’s spring festival where this is done.

The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one’s life, and in some areas, one for each year of one’s life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.

I don’t have any picture of Oni, so I decided to post this one because the cardboard samurai looks a bit like  an Oni. Notice the wooden sign under the Samurai which says “no photo”. I noticed it only when I got back home and downloaded all my pictures!! Sorry!


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