Happy New Year! what?????

free public domain image

free public domain image

In Japan, Setsubun (節分) is part of the Spring Festival, haru matsuri and the word means seasonal division. Setsubun is the last day before the beginning of spring  (haru春). This year it falls on February 3 and is associated with the lunar new year. It is also known as the Bean-throwing ceremony (mamemaki (豆撒き) or festival. Dancing, eating special sushi, roasted soybeans, theatre performances…festivities!!! In its simplest form, roasted soy beans are thrown out the door or at a family member wearing a frightening ogre mask and then slamming the door. “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi” – “Demons out, luck in!” This is a symbolic cleansing of the home to drive away evil spirits that cause bad luck and ill health.

free public domain image

free public domain image

At Shinto shrines, beans covered in silver or gold foil, coins, sweets, or other small prizes will be thrown by the priests to the crowd. in larger cities, celebrities and sumo wrestlers will be invited to do the tossing. I wonder if my guys, World Order, will be bean throwing? I’d like to find a video of that!

free pubic domain image

It is also customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of life plus one, to bring good luck for the year to come. Since I like roasted soybeans, I have no problem eating several for every year of life. My neighbors, those out and about early this morning, were treated to me standing at our front door throwing beans and shouting at the top of my lungs, “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!!!”  Honestly, probably no one was surprised.

Happy New Year!  Happy Spring!  Our Great American Groundhog, Phil, predicts six more weeks of weather.  That’s fine with me.  The lunar calendar says today is the last day before the beginning of spring.  No matter how much it snows, spring is on the way.  Tiny little bits of red are showing now on my flowering quince.  Barely there buds are showing on my plum trees.   I like that today is the day before spring.

copyright kanzensakura - flowering quince buds, spring is coming

copyright kanzensakura – flowering quince buds, spring is coming

And personally, I don’t blame Phil for biting the mayor. Look around in the video, there’s snow everywhere and folks are dressed like a bunch of mutant snowpeople.  If someone hauled me out of my nice warm bed at the crack of dawn on a cold morning with a bunch of noisy humans shouting and taking pictures, I’d bite somebody too.  Maybe Phil should have thrown beans and growled, Out Demons!!!…Nahhh, he did the right thing.

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45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 15:41:18

    I love this.. here in Sweden it feels weird to think about spring.. we still have several weeks of winter.. and now it has really come to us.. hopefully we can bring out the skis soon.. 🙂


  2. Sue Vincent
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 16:02:46

    Here the old festival of Imbloc celebrates the turn towards spring 🙂


  3. seeker
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 16:05:52

    I was just going to mention about the Groundhog being manhandled. 🙂 It’s goes to have traditions, so much and especially the food! We haven’t had any winter here yet.


  4. SirenaTales
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 16:13:39

    Love this, especially the image of you throwing beans out your door accompanied by the cleansing verbal exclamation :). Thank you for the cool info and inspiration. And Happy New Year! xoxo


  5. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 17:47:17

    Great and wishing you happiness on this day and every day. I love that it is a symbolic cleansing of the home to drive away evil spirits that cause bad luck and ill health. The world needs a lot more of that. ❤


  6. writingbolt
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 18:25:13

    The holidays seem squeezed together this year. If you’re Catholic and patriotic (USA), there’s a fairly solid string of holidays ahead, from Valentine’s (Feb. 14th) to Chinese New Year on the 19th. In between, there’s President’s Day, Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

    I will have to put trying cooked/fried soy beans on my “to do” culture/travel list. I have tried moon cakes and those candied flower seeds/rhyzomes and coconut strips (the flower slips my mind). I am not a big fan of the seasoned watermelon/winter melon seeds, though, because I can’t imagine digesting the shells…and cracking them is a pain.

    If you want my two cents, I think there is a mean Chinese year ahead of every peaceful year. Back in 2011, the year of the hare/cat (in Vietnam), the snow was harsh in the early months of the year (January-March). The previous was the tiger year. Now, it’s the year of the horse coming to an end before the year of the sheep. I don’t know if the horse is doling out punishment to those who did not make smart swift decisions…or if this is the curse of the Trojan/wood horse…or if the horse is just being a meanie/bad sport at the end of its year.


    • kanzensakura
      Feb 03, 2015 @ 19:12:06

      You may have a valid point there! Roasted soybeans are good and actually, common over here in the US. They are roasted like peanuts in oil, are small, crunchy and tasty. Easy to get hold of and there is all that protein in them.


      • writingbolt
        Feb 04, 2015 @ 15:59:59

        Do you get them at a specialty grocery store? Or, in the health/foreign food aisle (with the Indian and Mexican food items)? Are they comparable to the dried peas (wasabi peas)?


  7. smilecalm
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 18:43:43

    super happy
    calm, peaceful
    exciting holiday 🙂


  8. john flanagan
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 19:46:15

    An excellent offering – Thank You

    Best Wishes



  9. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 20:35:25

    Six more weeks of winter but spring is sneaking up on us. Good to hear. Brr. I can hardly wait. Remind me to stock up and stay put till the REAL spring arrives. 😀 😀 😀


  10. M-R
    Feb 03, 2015 @ 23:17:14

    Would you believe, Kanzen, we saw that on our nightly news ?? – it was a very quick grab, but I did love the fat thing biting that silly bloke on the ear. [grin]
    As for your … ahh … individual behaviour, I wouldn’t be surprised either, if I lived near you.


    • kanzensakura
      Feb 03, 2015 @ 23:24:16

      My theory is, the groundhog (a burrowing rodent who can get as high as 2+ feet standing on its hind legs and can be rather fierce), mistook the ugly hat the mayor was wearing as one of its executed relatives and was wreaking retribution. I’ve been known to bite and actually, when six, bit an asshole uncle on the hand because he would pat me on the head and coo over me. When he went to grab me (apparently I left definite teeth impressions), my father told him if he ever touched me again, he’d drop him where he stood. Poor groundhog had no papa standing near in his defense….Had I been there, I would have applauded.


  11. dragonscaleclippings
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 09:47:14

    love the descriptions of traditions – you write with such humour and also a vividness to your words – I can see everything!


  12. Bernice
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 12:35:22

    I thought it was funny when the groundhog bit him! How annoyed that groundhog must have been!!


  13. Susan Edelman
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 12:46:07

    I also side with the groundhog!!


  14. Suzanne
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 01:29:42

    How fascinating to read about the Japanese traditions for this day. Over here in Australia it’s the end of the summer holidays, the kids are all back in school and the beaches are no longer crowded


  15. Gabriella
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 18:07:44

    Thanks for all the fascinating information. I have never been to Japan but was once in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. I enjoyed what I saw of the festivities. Now I’d like to try roasted soybeans.


    • kanzensakura
      Feb 05, 2015 @ 19:29:57

      You can get them just about anywhere. Crunchy, munchy, salty…sometimes flavored – soy, barbecue, ranch. Nice nosh. I love Japan, but I guess that is obvious.


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