Tag Archives: 節分

Today is Setsubun

3 Feb

今日は「節分」。(Today is “Setsubun“).

Google’s Japanese page has a “Setsubun” logo today.

Setsubun is a day to cast out bad luck and bring in good luck. It involves an old tradition of throwing beans at someone wearing a demon mask representing bad luck.

It’s mostly done in homes with young children, in which the children throw the beans at their father wearing the oni (demon) mask.

Click here to read about this, and other Japanese customs and holidays in February.

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Setsubun

3 Feb

Today is February 3rd … in Japan, it’s a holiday called 節分 (Setsubun).

On this day, fathers wear a demon mask and the children throw beans at him and shout 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Demon (bad luck) go out! Good fortune come in!”) until he runs away.

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Then everyone eats the number of beans corresponding to their age (one bean for each year of their age).

Also, there is a special sushi people eat on this day.

And, at major temples in Japan, there is a ceremony in which celebrities who were born in the current Chinese zodiac year throw beans at the crowd.

We went to the famous 浅草寺 (Sensouji Temple) in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo) and caught some beans that were thrown by famous people there.  The celebrity that I was most looking forward to seeing was 「アニマル浜口)」 (“Animal” Hamaguchi)!

Animal Hamaguchi was a professional wrestler in Japan and then he became the trainer / coach of his daughter, Kyoko, who was a female wrestler that represented Japan at the Olympics and other games.

Animal Hamaguchi is well-known for his loud, animated and humorous support and cheering of his daughter!
I like him!

2013-02-03 13.02.38

2013-02-03 16.02.20

The charismatic “Animal” Hamaguchi throwing beans at the crowd.

Passed!

2 Feb

I wrote a post last year that my oldest daughter took (and passed) her high school entrance exam…and that I gave her a special Kit-Kat chocolate before her exam (Click here to read it).

Well, last week my second daughter took her high school entrance exam for the same school that my oldest daughter attends.

Just as I did for my oldest daughter, I gave my second daughter a package of special Kit-Kat chocolate to wish her luck.

「ミルクコーヒー味」 ("Milk Coffee flavor")

Today the results of the exams were announced. My daughter passed! 🙂
So beginning this April, my two oldest daughters will go to the same high school (my youngest will still be in junior high).

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Also, as I wrote yesterday, it snowed in the Tokyo area last night.
There wasn’t much snow in Tokyo this morning…but I had to go to a rural area to the north of Tokyo. There was more snow up there this morning.
I took a few photos with my cell-phone camera.
Here they are (click them to enlarge):

Snow on a mailbox.

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Tomorrow is the Japanese holiday 「節分」 (“Setsubun“).

Click here to read my post from last year in which I explain this holiday (and some other Japanese holidays in February too).

節分

4 Feb

Yesterday was 節分 (Setsubun).

Click here to read a post I wrote last week about it.

On this holiday (the first day of Spring in the old Lunar calendar), people (usually children) throw soy beans at someone dressed as the (demon) (usually the father) while shouting 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Bad luck out! Fortune in!”).

Setsubun demon masks.

Setsubun demon masks.

Also, many temples and shrines have festivals on 節分 (Setsubun) that often include sumo wrestlers and other celebrities throwing beans at the crowd.

Tokyo’s 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) is one of the most popular places at 節分 (Setsubun).

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

This year’s celebrities at 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) included Chadha, the Indian singer of Japanese Enka music and Tamao Nakamura, an actress.

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Tomorrow, the world famous annual 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) begins and goes for one week.

2009 �幌雪まつり

2009 札幌雪まつり

I went to this festival in 1992. It was great! I’d like to go again one day.

A highlight of the festival are the big, elaborate snow sculptures.

snowcastle

Click here to visit the 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) website in 日本語…or click here to visit the English version.

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横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) is having various 春節 (Chinese New Year) events until February 28.

You should check it out if you have a chance…even though the best parts (lion dance, dragon dance, etc) were on January 26, the date of Chinese New Year this year…there are still parades are other things scheduled various days this month.
Click here to visit the official 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) website’s 春節 (Chinese New Year) page. (Japanese only).

I wrote a post about Chinese New Year (click here to see it) and I mention in that post about the difference between the Chinese dragon dance and the Japanese one.

At New Years time, both China and Japan also have lion dances…but, just like the Chinese and Japanese dragons are quite different, so are the Chinese and Japanese lions.

The Chinese one:

Chinese Lion dance

Chinese Lion dance

The Japanese one looks and moves quite different. In Japan, it’s called 「獅子舞」 (Shishimai):

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

February in Japan

29 Jan

Next Tuesday (February 3, 2009) will be 節分 (Setsubun).

I wrote a little bit about it on my site’s FAQ page. (Click here to read it).

You can buy 節分 (Setsubun) beans and 鬼 (demon) masks at stores in Japan this time of year. On this holiday, the father in homes with children wears the demon mask (it’s not a scary demon) and the children throw the beans at him while shouting 「鬼は外、福は内!」 (“Out with the bad luck, in with the good!” (lit. “Demon out, Fortune in!”)).

setsubun

Setsubun sets at a store in Tokyo.

After the kids throw the beans, the 鬼 (demon) runs away. The children have banished bad luck from the home for the year!
Then everyone in the family picks the beans off the floor and eats them (floors in Japanese homes are clean because noone wears shoes indoors). You’re supposed to eat the number of beans that corresponds to your age.

Another thing that is popular on 節分 (Setsubun) is to visit a major temple (for example, 浅草寺 (Sensou-ji Temple) in 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo)) for their 節分 (Setsubun) event.
If you have a chance, you should see it. I have to work on Tuesday, so I can’t go…but I’ve been to 節分 (Setsubun) events many times.
At these events, a famous sumo wrestler or celebrity who was born in the same Chinese zodiac sign as the current year will throw 節分 (Setsubun) beans at the crowd.

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February 11 is 建国記念日 (National Foundation Day).
Click here to read my short FAQ about it.

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Just as it is in Western countries, February 14 is 「バレンタイン・デー」 (Valentine’s Day).
But it’s celebrated differently here. In Western countries, men give chocolate or gifts to women on 「バレンタイン・デー」 (Valentine’s Day)…but in Japan, women give chocolate to men on this day.

Not just any chocolate. And not just one man. She makes homemade chocolate for her boyfriend (or husband and sons), and also gives 義理チョコ (Obligation Chocolate) to male co-workers, boss, brother-in-law, etc.

(Click here to read my FAQ about it.)

Then one month later, on March 14, it’s 「ホワイト・デー」 (White Day). This day is closer to Western-style Valentine’s Day, because men give chocolate or gifts to every women who gave them chocolate on Valentine’s Day. The most expensive for his girlfriend (or wife and daughters).

(Click here to read my FAQ about “White Day“.)

A store's Valentine gifts for young kids.

A store's Valentine gifts for young kids.

The Valentines gift that I want!

The Valentines gift that I want!

Well, this year, Japan’s biggest chocolate company, 「森永」 (Morinaga), is offering a series of chocolates this 「バレンタイン・デー」 (Valentine’s Day) aimed at couples who would like to do 「バレンタイン・デー」 (Valentine’s Day) the “Western style” (men give chocolate to women).

They packaged these chocolates with all the writing backwards because that’s what Western-style 「バレンタイン・デー」 (Valentine’s Day) is in Japan. Backwards.

All of the writing is backwards.

All of the writing is backwards.

"Morinaga"'s line-up of reverse chocolates.

"Morinaga"'s line-up of 「逆チョコ」 ("Reverse Chocolates").

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Last year, the Japan Tourism Board tried a “Yokoso! Japan Weeks” campaign to lure visitors to Japan…and I guess it worked, because right now until February 28, 2009 is “Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2009“.

(「ようこそ」 (Yokoso (or “youkoso”)) means “Welcome” in Japanese.)

During this campaign, there are many specials and sales to help foreign visitors enjoy Japan.

If you plan to visit Japan, the official “Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2009” website has information that will be helpful. And if you visit during by February 28, 2009, there’s a coupon on the site that you can print out and use a stores listed on the website.
(Click here to visit the official “Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2009” website).

Also, if you’re planning to visit Japan (or you’re already here), and you have any questions…feel free to ask me via comment on this blog (or Email) and I’ll try to help.