Today was Setsubun: a Japanese festival were the devil or demons are chased out of the house. It is supposed to represent the start of spring (although the weather suggests that this is somewhat optimistic). A number of traditions are associated with this festival. The main one is that a parent will wear a demon mask and the other members of the family will throw roasted soy beans at the demon to chase them out of the house. It is common to see organised children’s events on the TV news. What the children make of this varies. See this video for example:

I didn’t see any devils or demons around my house. I bought a mask and beans from the supermarket. I couldn’t take on both roles of demon and bean thrower so I put the devil mask on the door and threw a few beans at it. I didn’t throw too many is it was making a mess.

I also ate Ehomaki. This is specific to Kansai. It is an uncut roll of sushi that contains 7 fillings (with 7 being a lucky number of some sort). I had intended to make some myself but I saw a Doraemon themed Ehomaki in the supermarket and I’m a slave to marketing (I’ll have to write a post about Doraemon in the future). I’m not completely sure what the 7 ingredients were as I could only count 5. You are supposed to eat it while facing a special direction and while not talking. The not talking was easy. I’m not an overly talkative person and I live on my own anyhow. The fortuitous direction was East North East. My flat faces East so I just needed to sit in front of the TV and face the corner of the room.

There are also popular events at the big temples and shrines were things are thrown and it is good luck to catch them. That seemed like a bit too much of a fuss for me so I didn’t attempt to find out more about that. Maybe next year I should try and find some little school kids to scare…