Japanese Language Blog

Japanese Culture: Risshun (立春) Part 2 Posted by on Feb 3, 2009 in Uncategorized

The last post described all the generic activities that most people in Japan perform on Risshun (立春).  While the generic activities are performed by many people in Japan, these generic activities can differ slightly depending upon the region.  Today’s post is a continuation of the last post, but with a focus on a case by case basis.

For example, people in the Kansai (関西) region of Japan will eat a type of maki zushi (巻き寿司) called eho maki (恵方巻).  Maki zushi (巻き寿司) is a type of sushi that has been rolled with a bamboo mat called called a makisu (巻き簾).  A makisu (巻き簾) is a bamboo mat woven together with strong cotten fibers.  You can get an inexpensive makisu (巻き簾) at your local asian grocery store.  You just place a layer of seaweed on the makisu (巻き簾), then spread some rice on the seaweed and some vegetables to go along with it as well.

As mentioned before, the specific type of sushi consumed in the Kansai (関西) region on the haru matsuri (春祭) is the eho maki (恵方巻).  The eho maki (恵方巻) literally means ‘lucky direction roll.’  Usually the eho maki (恵方巻) is sold in Japanese stores with a drawing of a compass.  Each zodiac animal represents a direction on the compass.  Since this is the year of the ox, the compass direction will point in a different direction than last year’s animal.  Whatever direction the compass points to will be considered a ‘lucky direction,’ which means that buying a house in that direction or investing in property in that direction will remain a good choice for the year.

The region of Fukushima (福島) has this tradition of hanging some dried sardines and some holly on the entrance of their houses.  It is thought that good luck will be brought to the inhabitants of the house by driving away evil spirits from the house.  Also, the chant when the beans are scattered differs as well.  Instead of the usual ‘Devil begone, good luck come in’ chant, the people of Fukushima (福島) chant the words, ‘oni no medama buttsubuse’ (鬼の目玉ぶっつぶせっ).  This unique chant can be translated as “Blind the demons’ eyes.”  (Oh, how spiteful! Glad I’m not an oni ()!)

One curious aspect that doesn’t make much sense to me is the scattering of the beans.  If I were a demon I doubt I would be scared of a couple of beans.  In fact I would probably be attracted to the beans because I would view them as free food!  Oh well, it’s just a fun custom, and I guess I shouldn’t get too caught up in analyzing it.  Ok, that’s it for today, Happy Setsubun (節分) everyone!

Tags: ,
Keep learning Japanese with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it