February 3rd is the day of Setsubun 節分, which refers to the day before the beginning of Spring. The literal meaning is ‘division of the seasons.’ It is believed that ‘oni 鬼, a devil like creature from Japanese folklore’ come when the seasons change in Japan. There are many rituals to exorcise these oni.
In the Okuhida region, Setsubun falls on the 1st of February. At the entrance of Fukuji-onsen Furusato 故郷, they displayed soybeans in the issho-masu (a square measuring box) and a picture of ‘oni’ and the head of baked sardine to ward off the evil spirits.
From 6 pm village children visited every houses and scattered roasted soy beans both inside and outside of their houses. When throwing soybean, the phrase ‘In with good fortune 福は内, out with the devil 鬼は外!’ is said. After the mame-maki 豆撒き (throwing soy beans), the children can get pocket money and sweets at their houses. It is not only a traditional event in Fukuji Onsen, but also one of the most enjoyable memories for children.
H. Koshika Travel Kids Co., Ltd.
Pics. from Fukuji-onsen Furusato 福地温泉 故郷 https://www.okuhida-furusato.co.jp/