Posted by: pdot78 | February 23, 2009

Week 33: Setsubun


Good morning Canada,

A few weeks ago Japan celebrated Setsubun. It is a special day celebrated throughout the country each year as a part of the Spring Festival. Setsubun (correctly called Risshun) means “seasonal division” and is closely tied to the Lunar New Year. As a result this usually takes place on the day before the season begins. This is because the key element of Setsubun is Mamemaki.

Here is a picture of Mamemaki. Try to guess what it is before reading.

Mamemaki is a special ritual to cleanse away all of the evil from the previous year and drive away any potential disease-bringing evil spirits in the year to come. This is done by throwing peanuts at people dressed up as demons.


Traditionally, roasted soybeans are thrown either out the door or at the toshiotoko (male head of the household) who is wearing an Oni (demon) mask. The people throwing peanuts also chant “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!”. According to Wikipedia this translates to “Demons out! Luck In!” which is roughly what my Japanese teachers said it meant as well. By driving out the demons, the Japanese are sending away the bad luck and misfortune with them. After this, the finishing step consists of eating your age in soybeans (peanuts in our case). If you want extra luck in the year to come you should eat your age plus one.

The teachers thoroughly enjoyed throwing peanuts at us. Also, the mask I chose ended up being substantially smaller then my face with eyeholes that were extremely close together. Here is some of the peanut chucking fun.



Well, thats all I have for you this week. It is starting to get warmer again  and the snow is gone so I will be back to my adventures soon enough. Take care.



  1. So does this mean you and Randy are head of the Amity Household?

  2. some of the japanese teachers are really cute! Some, not so much.

    but the sexiest person there was you in a suit, right Amie?

  3. Did you say the snow is gone?? Well, check out the pics on my Facebook page in the next couple of days if you’re missing it. We just got 35 cm on the w/e and more is to come this w/e. We’re buried! BTW, thanks for the trip reports. Makes me wish I was coming over with your Mum and Dad!

  4. Yeah your mask looks a little small…. All of this looks very fun… glad you are enjoying it

  5. I definitely thought the little boy was trying to get rid of the monsters. and I was right!
    I love your mask Paul, you should bring it home, and use it Halloween when you come back hehe
    Were they only throwing peanuts at you 2? or the kids too?

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