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Setsubun. Let's throw beans!
Setsubun New York style in Motion Plate by  Kihachi Studio

Setsubun New York style in Motion Plate by Kihachi Studio

Today (Feb. 3) is setsubun in Japan. It symbolizes the day prior to the traditional start of the the lunar new year. Think of it like a New Year’s eve — before risshun, the beginning of spring from the old lunar calendar. It’s a time when the fresh new year is welcomed in and ceremonies are performed to chase away evil from the previous year and keep it away from the new one. A special setsubun ritual to cleanse evil spirits away is called mame-maki, which can be translated into bean scattering or throwing. Typically, soybeans are used.

Families use a handful or cup of roasted soybeans and either toss them about the house or sometimes at a family member dressed as a demon — shouting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!", which means roughly, out with the evil and in with good fortune. They also open the windows and throw the beans outside. Another part of this tradition is to eat the same number of beans as your age to bring you good fortune in the coming year. Sometimes, an extra bean is added to increase this good fortune.

We wish you the best and most-rewarding year ahead...!

Cloud and Moon
Warabi Mochi from Ungetsu. Cool paper package.

Warabi Mochi from Ungetsu. Cool paper package.

We are now in Tokyo! … meeting with great artists and seeing amazing designs everywhere.

After one of the meetings — at the studio of a bamboo artisan from Kyoto — we walked by a beautiful little store in Minami Aoyama, called Ungetsu. This is a satellite store of a Kaiseki restaurant in Kyoto, and it means Cloud and Moon. It’s named after a piece of Zen poetry describing a late evening conversation about mountains, clouds, the ocean, and the moon between close friends.

In keeping with it’s poetic name, the store is designed in Kyoto style, and the women working there are all dressed in pretty kimonos. We tried Komatsu Kombu (salted sea weed, which was not so salty and was full of umami!), some Plum Paste (also super yummy... and great with bowl of rice!) along with a cup of green tea. We also purchased some sweet cakes and Warabi Mochi too. We can’t seem to get enough Japanese sweets!

JapanSuite_Ungetsu3
JapanSuite_Ungetsu2

Stay tuned for more about our time in Tokyo meeting with new and exciting artisans — and finding little treasures around every corner.