Monthly Archives: February 2007

Sestubun-Celebrating Spring



  February 4th was Setsubun. You know, a year is divided into 4 seasons in Japan: spring, summer, fall, and winter. People decided when each season started with lunar calendar in old days. Originally Setsubun means the day before each season started, but nowadays it means only the spring one, and people do many rituals for celebrating spring on that day.

     That day a friend of mine gave me a phone call and said, "Are you interested in Mamemaki?" Mamemaki means scattering parched soy beans, and it is one of Setsubun rituals. She informed me that there would be a festival that day at a Shinto shrine near Ueda, which is one of towns’ name in Nagoya. She was asking me to come to the shrine with her and other friends. I said, "Yes!" and headed for the shrine soon.

     Although I didn’t know where the shrine was exactly, I was able to find it easily because many people were walking to the same direction.

    I saw many people were in line and waiting for something when I arrived at the shrine. The line was for  buying special bags for Setsubun, in which there were a bottle of sake (Japanese alcohol), a pack of boiled rice with vegetables, a box of parched soy beans, a talisman, a lottery ticket and a ticket for getting purified by some Shinto priests.

      You could drink some sake and amazake for free in the shrine. Amazake is a hot sweet drink made from fermented rice or sake lees. It used to be cold drink in summer, but nowadays it’s usually hot one in winter. It’s nice to drink it with shaved ginger. I drank a cup of amazake there. That was great.

     I didn’t get purified by some priests or scatter parched soy beans there because it was troublesome for me to wait for my turn. But I enjoyed the Setsubun festival there.

     There were many volunteers there and they were wearing the same aprons. They looked cute.

     The shrine was unknown when it was built exactly, but it’s sure to be  renovated in 1580 and to deify Emperor Ojin as a main god. Originally it seems to be a ancient tomb for a powerful man around the area.

     By the way, people usually say "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" while scattering parched soy beans.It means "Come in good luck! Go away bad luck!". And it is said that you can be happy in the year when you eat the number of your age of parched soy beans on Setsubun day.