Read in Japanese

February third was Setsubun (節分). It's a whole lot of throwing beans (まめ、豆), chasing ogres (おに、鬼), and celebrating the last day of winter. It's a bit like spring cleaning: you chase the demons that have accumulated out to make room for the good stuff of the new year.  Doro and I went to the Osu Kannon shrine, but not in time to catch the parade (though we did manage to catch six beans to split between us; not quite enough, since you're supposed to eat an amount equal to your age to stay healthy through the next year).

Besides the bean-eating, other traditions include: eating an entire makizushi in silence while facing eastward; and throwing beans shouting "demons out, happy in!" (おにはそと、ふくはうち;鬼は外、福は内). (OK, to be more correct it's something like 'demons out, fortune in', but...) Actually, here in America some people follow the tradition of eating beans on the New Year. Black-eyed peas are supposed to bring good luck (they are beans, despite their name)!

You can read a story about the Demon of Setsubun here. This website also has an option to listen to the story, to improve your listening comprehension (聞き取り)!

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