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Demons Out, Fortune In

Exorcist Demon

Setsubun (Spring Equinox) is a purification festival, removing evil, (Demons or bad luck) and ushering in Good Luck. Roasted soy beans are thrown around the house to chase out the Demon and bring in the good luck. Throwing is accompanied by the chant ( "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" - Demons out, Fortune in). Grilled sardine heads are stuck on the end of a holly branch and put at the entrances of the house to repel incoming bad fortune, because demons hate bad smells and thorns. Beans also seem to attack their eyes.

The Setsubun festival is one of the highlights of the year. This mime is preformed several times a day for the parishioners. Watching the performance washes away evil spirits.

The Mime

On the day of Setsubun (February 2 or 3), the Widow roasts soybeans, lights the altar candle and puts the prepared holly branches at the entrance. A passing Exorcist is asked to remove the evil in order to escape it in the coming year. The Exorcist leaves. Next, a Demon comes dressed as a traveler in a straw hat.The Demon comes to the house, frightening the Widow. The woman is startled and tries to escape. The Demon tricks her into allowing him to stay, by eating the sardine head and giving her a kimono. The Demon makes many kimono with his magic mallet and tricks the Widow by giving them to her. They have a drinking party and the Demon falls asleep. The Widow's greed grows and she takes his magic mallet, then strips the Demon of his kimono. Now she sees his true form and screams, waking the Demon. The Demon discovers the theft and he tries to grab the widow. She pelts him with the roasted beans, thus driving him out.