Setsubun came. As you may know, Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. The name literally means seasonal division. However the term usually refers to the spring Setsubun. Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year’s Eve because it is associated with the Lunar New Year. Therefore Setsubun was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil spirits of the former year and drive away evil spirits bringing disease for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (bean scattering). The custom of mamemaki first appeared in the Muromachi period. Roasted soybeans (called fortune beans) are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an oni (Japanese demons or ogres) mask. This is still common practice in households. Setsubun has its origins in a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the 8th century.
I wander other foreign countries have Setsubun or something. To begin with, I am not sure oni were born and bred in Japan. I think they are scarier than devils and witches. And yet they are beaten by Momotaro (the peach boy).
I was curious why we eat soybeans at Setsubun and I found the fact any 5 grains (wheat, rice, beans, millet and kibi) are allowable. Originally people seemed to use adzuki beans but soybeans replaced them because people seemed to perceive larger beans would be more favourable to beating oni. If so, I think broad beans (sora-mame in Japanese and sora is associated with the sky) are more favourable. And yet it seems a bad idea because the beanstalk would reach the sky and the kingdom of ogres in this case. I am convinced of that. We would be in trouble if ogres came down to the world of humans.
I like Setsubun because I live on soybeans. Although I can be considered to eat salmon constantly, it is not true. I eat frequently soybean products which are champions containing vegetable protein. They are good for my health.
I will eat soybeans this year too.
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