Thursday, February 4, 2010

Setsubun Night 02-03-2010



Location: Dinner at Hibino, and bean throwing ceremony at home
Time: 8pm
People: Mum, RB and myself

Feelings: I don't usually celebrate Setsubun (Japanese bean throwing ceremony that takes place every year on February 3rd), but since my mother is visiting this week and insists on following tradition, RB and I decided to participate this year. When JLam from MeSoHungry showed a great interest in this rather strange tradition, I decided to show him what it's all about!

This ritual takes place to purify the evil spirits of the previous year and prevent them from coming back for the coming year. Mum was eagerly looking for sardine heads to put them in front of our apartment (to ward away evil spirits), but I did not want to disturb our neighbors with the fish smell nor want to attract bugs. Is it worth attracting bugs to stop the evil spirits?

We headed over to my favorite Kyoto style Japanese restaurant, Hibino for some makizushi (rolled sushi), which is another customary food to have on the day of Setsubun. You need to eat the uncut rolled sushi in silence while facing the "lucky direction" of the year, which was Southwest this year. We ordered Vegetable Futomaki ($8, Fat Rolls with Okra and other seasonal green vegetables), all faced Southwest together, and had a big mouthful of sushi. Other customers in the restaurant must have thought we were insane. The vegetable futomaki here is amazingly fresh and delicious, and I highly recommend them to all vegetarians who are sick of bland vegetable sushi.

We finished the night at home with Mamemaki ceremony where the actual bean throwing takes place. The man of the household (=RB) wore a demon mask, and Mum and I threw purified roasted soybeans at him saying, "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out! Good luck in!)" as we threw him out from home. This is equivalent of Santa Claus visiting in the U.S., except here, the man of the household has to become some evil scary dude instead of a jolly fat man. Perhaps Japan is more feminist friendly that I had initially thought.

We finished the ceremony by eating the soybeans, and it is said to bring luck if you eat the number of your age. Perhaps next year, you can try this peculiar yet fun ceremony. Sometimes it's fun to throw beans at someone as you are kicking him out from your home.

3 comments:

Gar said...

Thanks for the educational lesson. :) I remembered visiting my local shrine in Nagoya and took part in this festival. Couldn't help but munched on the beans throughout that whole time...of course, not off the ground. :P

I'm sure RB was a very 'handsome' devil. lol.

Gar said...

BTw, how many soybeans did you eat? Only if you want to share hee. :P

Yosh O. said...

haha handsome devil.