Saturday, February 04, 2006


Chasing Demons

February 3rd will be Setsubun in Japan, or a “parting of seasons.” Essentially, after this day, winter will end. Traditionally, people celebrated this change by chasing out the demons, or oni, which have accumulated over the year in the homes. The weapon of choice is a handful of soybeans and the words: “Oni wa soto. Fuku wa uchi!” This roughly means: “Demons go out! Good luck come in!”

I’m in the city of Nara – a favorite place – where plans are underway to chase out the demons, or oni, in a big way. To prepare, stores have put out little demon decorations (most of the demons are cute, of course) and special packages of roast soy beans.

One sushi store was selling a “demon out good luck in” sushi special.

I found this display of oni masks which I assume actors will wear at the oni exorcism at Koufukuji later today. I’ll report back later to let you know if the demons really did go away, and if good luck really did arrive.

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