On February 2nd, 2021, Japan celebrated the festival of Setsubun 節分, the day before the beginning of spring in the traditional calendar

One of the famous practices associated with the festival is mamemaki 豆まき, throwing beans (dried roasted soybeans or peanuts in some regions) outside or at someone wearing the mask of an oni (demon).

While doing this, you're supposed to say 鬼は外、福は内 oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi, which means :

"Out with the demons, in with good fortune"


Of course, Setsubun 2021 is a little different than previous years due to the pandemic. In hopes of curbing an alarming increase in reported COVID-19 infections, the Japanese government enacted a state of emergency of January 7th, 2021. It was originally scheduled to continue until February 7th, but was extended until March 7th.

Twitter user and illustrator Fudetarazu 筆たらず (@LLVPunQEFDXM7wI) suggested how the usual interaction between bean-throwers and demons may have been different this year as a result:

"What happened yesterday (in my imagination)"

Reproduced with permission from Fudetarazu 筆たらず (@LLVPunQEFDXM7wI)

"Out with the demons" implies the demons should stay outside, but that goes against the Japanese government's directive to "avoid unnecessary and nonurgent outings" during the current state of emergency.

Let's hope that everyone will feel safe going out next year!

By - Ben K.