Bring in The Good Luck!

Bad luck out, good luck in! Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready for good spirits and good luck to be ushered in to the new year!

The first week in February is one of my favorites of the year – Groundhog Day, my birthday and my favorite (at least one of my favorite) Japanese festivals — Setsubun!

Bad luck out, good luck in!

I decided to record a “vlog” to tell you more about why I love Setsubun ––  the Japanese celebration to usher in the first new season of the year.

In the video below, I share how my family continues to keep up this tradition (including some videos from last week of my kids throwing soybeans at my husband dressed up as an ogre!), and some real videos and photos from my last 36 hours in Japan a year ago where I got to celebrate Setsubun in my old neighborhood in Tokyo.

Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!

Check out the video below to learn more about Setsubun and how we all can bring a little more good luck into our lives.

Our family first discovered the Japanese Setsubun festival just a month after we moved to Japan six years ago, and even since we’ve returned to the United States we still keep up the tradition.

Throughout the video you’ll hear me and others chant “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!”. This means “ogre go outside, good luck (or happiness) come inside” and you’ll see people throwing soybeans at the oni (ogres) to ward off their evil spirits. It’s a fun and festive holiday – and even more fun is that is usually celebrated the day before my birthday!

Looking Back on a Year Ago

A year ago I was in Japan to prepare for my two planned Japan Study Trips for 2020, which we all know of course never came to be due to the pandemic. Looking back, that trip was really my last “hurrah” before the world as I know it changed. I’m so grateful to have seen Mr. Yoshino and friends, and to have a wonderful two weeks traveling across Japan (you can read about the trip here).

I purposefully coordinated my planning trip for late January / early February to coincide with Setsubun so that I could experience the festival and relive these fun early memories of living in Japan. And it meant flying home on my birthday – resulting in the longest birthday ever due to flying back through the international date line. I’m so glad that I made that trip happen – and that I got to experience Setusbun in person while in Japan for the third time!

Eat Your Good Luck in Beans

I forgot to mention in the video that one of the other traditions of Setsubun is that you eat the same number of dried soybeans as your age.

Now that I’m moving towards half a century, this is getting to be too many beans for my liking. So the “compromise” tradition is to eat the same number as your tens and your ones digit added together.

So it was 10 beans for me! (Can you guess my age?!).

What traditions have you picked up from other cultures and adopted in your family?

Cats warding off the evil spirits too

In the video I also show the cat (or “neko”) that I bought on that same trip to Japan last year while in the southern island of Kyushu (where I also visited the Toyota Lexus plant and some Toyota suppliers). The cat is warding off evil spirits – and I can’t wait to turn her around to her happy side. You can read more about this neko figurine in this blog post.

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

While 2020 did not turn out as we expected — we all got knocked down many time, and in many ways — we continue to get up. 2020 was definitely a year for the Japanese proverb “Fall down seven times, get up eight.”

Daruma dolls are a visual representation of the same spirit of perseverance as this proverb — they are even weighted on the bottom so they “get back up” anytime they are knocked down.

On that same trip to Japan a year ago, I painted my own daruma’s face — those brush strokes are much harder than they look — while passing through the city of Takasaki, the “daruma capitol” of Japan. I take participants on my Japan Study Trips — such as this one in 2018 — to the temple there to view the hundreds of daruma on display and to get a real Japanese temple experience.

Patience and Perseverance (and a Little Positive Mindset)

My daruma has been sitting patiently on the shelf in my office until we can travel safely and freely across international boarders again. I look forward to being able to fill my daruma’s eye which will signify achieving my goal of another successful Japan Study Trip. The next trip is currently scheduled for November 2021. And if the pandemic does not allow that to happen, I will get up, and continue to be patient and persistent and look towards 2022.

My Wish For Us All

May “fuku wa uchi” (good luck come in) to all of our homes and may darumas across the world see their eyes filled in this year!

Stay healthy and well. And remember, keep getting back up. We’ll find our way forward into better fortune.

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