JAPAN – TOKYO FOR FREE: Beans from the Sky!
And they bring luck too – Mamemaki Ritual – SENSO-JI
The custom of â€œMamemakiâ€ (è±†æ’’ã – bean scattering)
is performed on â€œSetsubunâ€ (ç¯€åˆ† â€“ seasonal division),
marking the end of winter.
In Japan, this day before the â€œbeginning of Springâ€ (ç«‹æ˜¥ – Risshun)
is celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the â€œSpring Festivalâ€ (æ˜¥ç¥ – haru matsuri).
Roasted soybeans called “fortune beans” (ç¦è±† fuku mame)
are put in a â€œmasuâ€ (æž¡å‡ a wooden measuring-box cup)
and thrown either out the door or at someone wearing an â€œOniâ€ (é¬¼ – demon or ogre) mask,
while crying: “Demons out! Luck in!”
(é¬¼ã¯å¤–! ç¦ã¯å†…! – Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!)
to ward off disasters and accidents, ensure good health and to bring good luck.
This is still common practice in households,
but nowadays many people attend Buddhist templesâ€™
and Shinto shrinesâ€™ Spring Festivals where this is done.
Priests and invited guests (like celebrities, athletes and sumo wrestlers)
throw roasted soybeans, small envelopes with money,
sweets, candies and other prizes. Some events are televised nationally.
At SensÅ-ji in the Asakusa neighbourhood of Tokyo,
crowds of nearly 100,000 people attend the annual festivities.
In its association with the Chinese lunisolar Calendar,
Spring Setsubun is also considered as a New Year’s Eve,
this is why is accompanied by this special ritual to cleanse away all the evil
of the former year and welcome good fortune in the year to come.
The beans are thought to symbolically purify
the place by driving away the demons
and ogres that bring misfortune and bad health.
Then, as part of bringing good luck in,
it is customary to eat the roasted soybeans,
one for each year of your life plus one for the coming year.
It is said that a tour of the shrines
and temples where the seven Gods of Fortune (ä¸ƒç¦ç¥ž – Shichifukujin)
are enshrined, at the beginning of the New Year,
will bring you happiness, health, wealth and luck.
Have a look here!
The gestures of mamemaki look similar to the Western custom
of throwing rice at newly married couples after the wedding.
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