Posted by: softypapa | February 4, 2009

Japanese Setsubun Chalkboard Oni


Japanese red ogre (aka oni)This delightful chalkboard image was made by Ms. Sawano who teaches third grade at an elementary school in Shizuoka City, Japan. The image depicts a red ogre (aka oni) running away from soy beans which have been tossed at him. Ms Sawano drew the image on her classroom chalkboard for the delight of her students and to mark the February 3rd Japanese festival of Setsubun. The beans are shown along with a special red-colored wooden box called fuku masu (luck box) which are used to hold beans during the mamemaki bean tossing event.

The event of Setsubun traditionally marked the passage of one season into the next and was therefore in the past celebrated on the day before the new season would commence. Contemporary Japanese however, typically participate in Setsubun activities only on February 3rd which in the past represented the day before the start of the spring season. Community Setsubun events are held at Buddhist temples as well as Shinto shrines while family members may participate in an activity called mamemaki (literally “bean toss”) which is thought to symbolically cleanse the home (a form of spiritual spring cleaning). The head of the home (traditionally the father) will done a fierce ogre (oni) mask while family members toss soy beans at him while chanting oni wa soto fuku wa uchi which roughly translates as “out with bad luck and in with good”. In the past when Japanese families were often quite large the role of the oni would be played by the household toshiotoko, identified as the male family member who was born on the same animal year in accordance with the Chinese calendar.

Japanese red ogre (aka oni) running from soy beans during Setsubun festivalLearn more about the Shinto religion at
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