February 3, 2009

Demons Out, Good Fortune In

On February 3rd, we had Setsubun at our apartment. What the heck is Setsubun? According to a book I have on Japanese traditions, it’s an informal ritual that happens the day before the start of spring in the lunisolar calendar (what that is, I’m not sure). On the Setsubun day, people across Japan crack open the doors of their apartments or houses and throw roasted beans out the door.

While they are doing this, they shout:
鬼は外! 福は内
[Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi]
which roughly translates into “Demons Out! Good luck in.”
It’s a spiritual housecleaning of sorts.

That’s a universal idea, when you think about it—out with the nasty stuff that causes misfortune, in with the purifying fresh air/good stuff. It’s actually a lot of fun, particularly when kids are involved. Bring in the rugrats, and things invariably turn cute, as the following pics of Lady E. and her latest male love interest attest.

He’s wearing a little demon mask. Elena is clearly smitten.

been trying to meet you
must be a devil between us
“Hey” by the Pixies (Doolittle)

It’s still early in the New Year, but our luck has held out so far, when for a lot of people it hasn’t been so great with all the economic problems wreaking havoc around the globe. So I tossed an extra couple of beans in hopes of warding off the sneaky little job-stealing demons. Hopefully that’ll keep ‘em away, and me workin’!

Cheers for now.