Japanese ‘Setsubun’ And American Groundhog’s Day

Setsubun is a ceremony in Japan to ensure that the upcoming spring will bring with it good fortune, and that old demons that may be hanging around are driven away. If you are an American you know the old yarn about the groundhog coming out of his hole to see his shadow. Oddly but perhaps typical of yarns, if the groundhog does ‘not’ see his shadow, that means that spring is coming soon. For your information, Groundhog’s Day is on February second (my birthday coincidently), and Setsubun is on the third of the same month. Neither are national holidays, which used to disappoint me as a child but which I now could care less about. Setusbun, in fact, is far more exciting than Groundhog’s Day as far as I’m concerned.

In the United States, Groundhog’s Day has evolved into a strange ritual. There is always a designated groundhog for the vicinity, which is always given a male name (we’d never know anyway), and a big sign proclaiming that name is posted above the animal’s burrow. A television journalist is then sent in to report the outcome of Dave (or Brian or whatever) the groundhog seeing its shadow or not. What’s more, it’s usually pretty obvious that groundhogs do not come out of their burrows on February second of their own accord, but have been dragged out and are pretty darned scared. In fact, I don’t think Groundhog’s Day will last much longer.

Setusbun is much more fun because you get to throw beans at men dressed up as devils who gradually flee between alternately letting out ferocious screams and pretending to cry in pain. The great thing about the beans (usually soybeans) is that they’re edible as well, and you can munch as you throw. How often is it OK to waste food like that?

Dinah Jackson writes articles about science, travel and Pokemon. For the newest Pokemon Best Wishes information on the web, check out the new Pokemon online magazine called Pokezine. Hundreds of magazine articles on all different Pokemon subjects for free. Get all the latest news, plus tons of information about upcoming great items like Pokemon Oshawott plushie, Snivy, Tepig, Minccino and many others. Check it out. Its 100% free.

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Author: Uzumaki Naruto

Expert tips before traveling Japan, including reviews of Japanese food and restaurants to help you make your trip as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

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