Setsubun Fun!

Dear Flowers Class mommies and daddies,

Today we celebrated the Japanese ‘Setsubun’ festival with all our friends in Flowers Class. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the Setsubun festival here is a brief summary of the festival and its history:

Setsubun (節分?) is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the Spring Festival (, haru matsuri?).  In its association with the Lunar New Year, spring Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year's Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki  (literally "bean scattering"). Roasted soybeans (called "fortune beans"  are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing an Oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the people say "Demons out! Luck in!", Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! and slam the door. This is still common practice in households but many people will attend a shrine or temple's Spring festival where this is done. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life, and in some areas, one for each year of one's life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come. The gestures of mamemaki look similar to the Western custom of throwing rice at newly married couples after a wedding.     

We were very lucky to have Sayaka visit us from Buds class this morning to help us sing the Oni song and read a special Setsubun story to us. Earlier in the morning we had a great time pretending we were flying far away together as there were chairs laid out just like on an airplane with a pilot and controls at the front too.


Next to the rows of chairs we also saw a trolley just like on a real airplane with food and drinks items ready to be served. The main table had no chairs around it but had a Chinese game set up on it; ping-pong. We had a good time playing ping-pong together and although it was a little difficult at first we still managed to hit the ball. On the smaller table we saw our small paper passports we started making yesterday so that we could travel overseas. We used some nice sparkly markers and colored pencils to decorate our passports and make them look special. Next to the passports was a twin propellered airplane made from a construction kit with a small motor. We looked carefully and saw the + and – signs on the batteries and put them in the airplane wings. The propellers then started to turn. We tried other batteries too, to see which ones had the most power in them. After returning from the park, singing and listening to the Setsubun story with Sayaka we heard that an Oni would be visiting the classroom and we needed to throw beans at the monster.  It was lots of fun and we threw lots and lots of beans at the monster who eventually ran out the door. We were so proud of our achievement we cheered and cheered! Yeah!

Have a great weekend and we look forward to seeing you on Monday.

Love, Darren, Pauline, Pooja and all the children in Flowers Class

Ohana International School