Akikosan likes to bring things "Japanese" for us to experience. I enjoy our times with her immensely. We're able to ask about anything that has puzzled us during the week. She brings us fun things to try and shares insights into the Japanese mind we've simply not gleaned from briefings at the base or books on Japan.
Yesterday, she brought us a bag of mame (peanuts) and a mask. The mask says "ECO" across the forehead, has trees for ears/hair and leaves for a mustache. The nose is a recycling triangle. This led us to believe this was some sort of "environmental festival". There always seems to be some new festival popping up.
3 Feb is Setsubun in Japan. This day marks the beginning of a new season. The way Akikosan communicated it....it's a time to chase out bad fortune and welcome good fortune for the rest of the year. NOW - we believe in a Sovereign God who dictates our steps - and at times the very BEST spiritual growth has come from incidents that others would consider bad fortune. In other words, we all played along, but we fully knew that nothing about the mask or peanuts would bring good luck or chase out bad luck....and we didn't want it to. Bad fortune, we thought, was portrayed as an environmental devil....not that far off from the battle of the Snowy Owl in OR as I grew up. LOL
Nevertheless, regardless of our view on "luck," we DO want to understand and experience Japan. One family member wears the Oni mask. We were told the mask represents "bad fortune." The mask wearer runs around the house. Obviously, this seemed like a wonderful practice to the kids.
As they run through the house, and out the house, everyone else throws mame (soy beans, peanuts) at the child wearing the Oni mask. The mame represent bad fortune. As you throw peanuts you yell, Oni Wa Soto and Fyu Ku Wa Uchi (Bad fortune out/Good fortune in).
It was fun. It broke up the winter day with a bit of inside the house levity. The Japanese culture works HARD, but they also celebrate LOTS of festivals and days that allow for fun.
I realize there may be an outcry about this post, but it deserves a spot in our family journal. It's part of our Japanese experience. We're new here and weren't aware of the finer points of this festival.....until later when I went to Wikipedia. According to Wikipedia, the Oni mask, which looked like an environmental caricature, represents Bad Fortune or a Demon. Come to think of it, chasing around yelling, "Devil Get OUT" may not be such a bad idea. I certainly have been doing such in my morning prayer times. One could certainly find spiritual truth in Scripture that we are victorious Christians, given authority to walk victoriously over the powers and schemes of the evil one. Anyway - there you have it, our latest cultural adventure.
Living all of life before the face of God...