Hotel Ryumeikan Ochanomizu Honten



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February is the time of SETSUBUN.
“Goblins away, happiness in”
We hear shouts in high spirits from many houses and places, people’s scattering roasted soy beans. I used to eat greedily beans, which I was given at the swimming school in my childhood, of more than amount of my age.
When I back to home, my brothers and I scattered with all our might and never thought about cleaning after that. Looking back those days I think it must have been a tough day for my mother, causing her troublesome like we could not finish our dinner because our stomach was so full of beans and the house was so messy with scatter beans.


SETSUBUN dates 4 times a year

Now how many people know there are four SETSUBUN occasion in a year?
SESTSUBUN means literally "part" of "season". That is why SETSUBUN is dated before the start of spring, summer, autumn and winter. By lunar calendar people considered the start of spring very important is the beginning of a year. Therefore SETSUBUN became to be stated in spring. When the start of spring is dated in the beginning of the year, the SETSUBUN of the previous day is Oomisoka (the last day of the year).

Scatter beans in SETSUBUN used to be the important event in the last day of the year for people to drive evil spirits out. Reason to eat beans is said as following. Scatter beans were considered as "happy beans", which were roasted by fire and driven the evil sprints out, and people wished their health and happiness in the following year by putting happiness inside the body as much as an amount of age.


Why people scatter beans in SETSUBUN?

People believe beans have power "to drive evil", in other words power to "extinct evil". There is one story remianed that once upon a time when an ogre appeared in Kurama mountain in Kyoto, Rashamonten gave a divine revelation and drove the ogre with scattered beans to the ogre's eyes. Also there is included a wish for healthy body with industry. According another view, people say colors of an ogre has each meaning. Depends on color an ogre has, it shows people's feeling to be right. For example red shows "desire", blue shows "anger", black shows "idle complaint", yellow shows "dependence" and green shows "arrogance".

Actually this kind of yearly event is still remained more than 60 years people in Sanjo city in Niigata scatter 5 colors of beans to an ogre. Now you know there are colors in ogre to show feelings, you might put more wishes in your hands to scatter beans. Why not?



There is a custom to eat EHO-MAKI ( a happy roll) in SETSUBUN.
EHO-MAKI means a big roll to catch and put fortune in the roll, and this custom was originally from Kansai in the later of Edo era. It is ruled to eat up a whole without any dialogue. The roll is not cut into pieces with the meaning of "not to cut relationship" and "not to spoil bond". Why you don't speak means "not to spill fortune". Happy and virtue azimuth in the year of 2015 where fortune gods stay is west-south-west. You might laugh at funny scenes all people facing towards the same azimuth by eating EHO-MAKI without speaking each other. Wondering if they can accomplish their wishes, but there is a proverb says "laugh brings fortune".


Episode by Ryumeikan staff about SETSUBUN

Herewith you can see various episodes how we Japanese people spend those days by interviewed to our hotel staff.

■Toshio Hamada, the fifth president of Ryumeikan
"In my childhood our Ryokan was still wooden build, and I used to scatter beans with big shouts, opened all windows and walked around the rooms holding a big bowl filled many beans in my arms. There was no need to care about disturbing even customer stayed in their rooms and the customers welcomed me. I recall those joys to invade them telling "let me come in because it is the time of SETSUBUN! "

■20's female from Ibaragi prefecture
My family and I scattered beans to outside from an entrance door. And I saw my parents sweeping those beans lately. By the way we also had an event called "SETSUBUN Sardine". What it means...people say SETSUBUN custom itself was brought from China, but its custom gradually varied such as "to hung sardine's head, which was stabbed with a holly branch" . Reason why western people eat a lot of sardine is likely to originated to this custom. When you grill SETSUBUN Sardine, it sends up smokes and smells. So people think those smokes and smell drive evils, and also to stab ogre's eyes by holly needle.

■30's female from Nagano prefecture
I did not scatter beans in my childhood. But now I got married and started feeling to appreciate Japanese culture, so that I scatter beans inside and outside my house.

■40's male from Shizuoka prefecture
I used to scatter from window on the 3rd floor of my complex apartments. Mostly to outside and inside moderately because it was a troublesome to clean up inside my house.

■70's male from Tokyo
I don't recall our family did occasionally.....

■30's female from Tokyo
My mother took Japanese customs carefully so that she organized events. We scattered outside from all windows naturally, also did in a bathroom and from an ventilation fan in toilet when no windows.

■30's female from Saitama prefecture
I recall I ate in a school lunch. When I was in a nursery school, we decided who to be an ogre and enjoyed scattering beans to the ogre.

■20's female from Fukushima prefecture
I scattered from all windows. To bring fortune inside I put a small portion of beans all over such in a toilet, stairs and other spots I needed. So finally my house was spread with full beans. All of my family bought beans by each, and I recall we exchanged information for recommended beans.

■50's male from Saitama prefecture
I recall my father scattered with his big shoult. There are various style for SETSUBUN in each family. Wish your SETSUBUN with as many fortune and happiness as possible.

3rd February, 2015