Friday, February 6, 2015
Setsubun and mamemaki
I stopped by Ropossa to give my friends there some omiyage from Osaka. I had bought a gold colored pile of shit, which also had a small bell to make sounds. It said "for good luck" (which in Japanese sounds like the word for shit), and the mama at Ropossa collects things like that.
It turned out to be Setsubun, that last day before spring in Japan. That is, the rest of Japan. In Hokkaido February is still very much winter... On this day, you do mamemaki. I have never personally experiences this, but you throw mame (beans) at oni (deamons) to drive out bad spirits and bring in good fortune. So someone dresses up like an oni, and everyone throws mame at them until they leave.
I was asked to play the role of the oni, since the girl who usually does this (she did it the last 18 years, they said) was sick and could not come this year. I started furiously studying how to do this on YouTube, but then a guy I know a little showed up. I asked him if he would enjoy playing the oni, and he said he would love to do that. Who was I to stop him? So I gave him the mask I had been given.
Two people wore oni masks, and the rest of us threw peanuts at them until they left the bar. Then a smaller group of us followed them out to the elevators, throwing more peanuts. When the elevator arrived, there were "normal" people in it so one of the oni said: "You go ahead without us" very politely. Everyone thought this was funny, because oni are not normally that polite. When the next elevator arrived, the oni got in and we threw some more peanuts at them. We threw the last peanuts from the second floor when they ran for the door on the first floor.
After this was finished, everyone had to run around and clean up the peanuts quickly, before all the drunks visiting the building had stepped on them and made cleanup more difficult.
Then, you are supposed to eat beans. One for each year you have lived.