Every year on the 3rd February, Japanese people will spread roasted beans while shouting loudly. This is the Japanese event "Setsubun" with the purpose of chasing away “Oni”. But what are “Oni”? Why do Japanese use beans to chase them away? Today, we will help you to understand the truth of this mystery.
What are “Oni”?
Although there are various opinions, some opinion says that “Oni” are Gods, some say they are ghosts, while some say “Oni” is the spirit of people who have passed away. However, no matter which of these you believe, “Oni” are thought to be a type of bad spirit.
“Oni” in “Setsubun” refers to all evil things such as illness, injury, accident, etc.
How can “Oni” be chased away with only soybeans?
Since ancient times, Japan emphasizes the importance of “five grains” of rice, wheat, millet, hie (barnyard millet), and bean (soybean). In the autumn harvesting season, there is also a prayer for “Gokokuhojo” in which people pray for a good harvest of grains. Therefore, since “five grains” have such a mysterious power, Japanese think that it will be powerful enough to chase away “Oni”.
Also, it is said that the culture derived from the pronunciation of "bean" (mame) is also same with "kill the demon" (mame).
By the way, on the day of “Setsubun”, Japanese will put the head of a sardine which has a smell that is disliked by “Oni” at the entrance and also inside of the house, as well as decorate holly which has painful thorns. In other words, the Japanese are trying to protect themselves from the bad luck.
Why do Japanese do it on 3rd February?
“Setsubun” falls on the season changing day, and therefore it is said that it is a day when bad thing will enter easier. It is said that bad things will occur in the next season if the evil and bad things accumulated in the current season are not cleared. Therefore, it was fixed on 3rd February which falls in the winter where people get sick easily, and is also a festive day of the lunar calendar.
By the way, the beans which were scattered will be eaten and the eaten quantity is depending on the age of the person plus one (counted age), so that a bad thing is not going to happen for this whole year. There are still many contemporary Japanese people who follow this custom.