Bean-throwing at Setsubun
.. There was a Setsubun bean-throwing ceremony today at the home where I am living. I believe that this world has no room for devils, so I was rather reluctant to attend this ceremony, in which we would be expected to chase away devils by throwing beans at them. Someone told me, though, I had no choice this year as all born in the Year of the Monkey were expected to take part. So, with some hesitation, I joined. Before the ceremony, we were served bean tea, which was pleasant enough, although its taste was something I had almost forgotten. Soon, roasted beans were distributed in lacquered wooden boxes, but for a while we sat around with them on the table, talking about different things. I could not refrain myself from putting some beans in my mouth, for I was eager to taste them. Immediately, a fond memory came back. During the Wartime evacuation, for the first time in my life, I was sent to a boarding house as the middle school where I studied was too far away from home, and my mother had often given me roasted beans to use for my snacks. I shared them with my friends at times, but more often I ate them hiding under my coverlet just to fill my empty stomach. I discovered that the taste of roasted beans had not changed at all, although so many things had changed since the end of the War.
……….. I find roasted beans
……….. Very refreshing indeed —
……….. Their modest sweetness.
.. We soon started out on our devil-hunting with the boxes of roasted beans. We were told that we should scatter beans at the entrances to our residence halls, always throwing them from indoors to outdoors, even when we were calling good luck to come in. I thought this strange instruction might be due to the fact that the sweeping up of beans indoors would not be so easy. Those thrown outdoors would surely be cleaned up by the little birds. When we reached the entrance of one of the residence halls, I was surprised to see a devil standing in front of it. The figure was garbed in coarse black cloth and held a bamboo branch against its shoulder with little devil masks hanging from it, some red and others blue. The figure itself wore on its head the angry mask of a devil. Naturally, we all threw beans at this figure, shouting ‘Devils out!’, and gradually, it retreated, then turned to run away. Once again, I was surprised, for the mask had been reversed to show the benign face of a woman.
……….. Merely turned around,
……….. The devil’s mask can gently smile
……….. As Lady Fortune.