Chasing the demons away!

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The Japanese Culture Club at West celebrated the Japanese tradition of Setsubun early this year.

By Jeremy Hopkins, West Editor

Chasing Oni at setsubun celebration
Chasing the oni away.
(Photo by Jeremy Hopkins)

The Japanese Culture Club celebrated the festival called setsubun on January 31, traditionally held on February 3 every year.  Setsubun, or the “bean-throwing” festival, is celebrated with roasted soy beans, oni masks, and costumes.  Priests also hit people lightly on the back with bamboo bats.  Club President Ed Jacobs explained about the tradition of setsubun, including the tradition behind the masks performers wear.  He then presented video of how residents of Japan celebrate this festival to chase away the demons of last year, and bring in good luck for the coming year.


School policy will not include the full celebration because it involves fire.  However, participants did perform the ritual of throwing bags of beans at the oni (the demons) to chase them away.  Participants were also tapped on the back in honor of the Buddhism-rooted tradition to drive out the remnants of last year’s luck and make room for this year’s good luck.  Along the way, the club learned more of the history of this event, which has its first recorded celebration over one thousand years ago.


This event is open to all, and club President mentioned some of his plans for a larger celebration next year.  In the mean time, the entire club will be working on several events in preparation, including a tentatively scheduled trip to the Art Museum here in Cleveland.  The Japanese Culture Club meets on Fridays at the Western Campus, roughly noon to 2:00 PM.  Please join the Voice in wishing them Good Luck – “Oni wa soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” – for the coming year.  (Bean throwing not required.)


Gallery of photos from the club’s celebration can be seen here.



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