Every year on the 3rd of February, Japanese people will spread roasted beans while shouting loudly. This is the Japanese event "Setsubun" which has the purpose of chasing away demons, or "Oni" in Japanese. But what are Oni? Why do Japanese people use beans to chase them away? Today, we will help you to understand the truth of this cultural and mysterious event.
What are Oni?
Although there are various opinions, some opinion says that Oni are Gods, some say they are ghosts, while some say an Oni is the spirit of a person who has passed away. However, no matter which of these you believe, Oni are thought to be a type of bad spirit.
Oni within 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 the “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, the 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 the same as "kill the demon" (mame).
By the way, on the day of “Setsubun”, the 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 bad luck.
Why do the 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 things 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 when 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 quantity depends 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.