Industrial-Strength Exorcism in Three Easy Steps

Today, in honor of Setsubun, allow me to divulge the time-honored Japanese method for getting rid of all your demons!


Soybeans. Roasted ones. These are for throwing at the oldest male member of your family, who will be wearing a demon mask for the occasion. The demon must be pelted ferociously enough to drive him from the house, as you shout, “Demons out! Good luck in!” Save enough of the beans so you can eat as many as your age. This is not a hardship for five-year-olds, but 80-year-olds do not look forward to Setsubun. Plain roasted soybeans are never going to beat Cheetos in the snack food wars.


Once the demons have been given the boot, you don’t want them re-infesting. The best way to ensure they get out and stay out is to plant smelly fish heads and spiky holly branches all around outside your door. This may also have the desirable side effect of deterring religious proselytizers and sketchy individuals hawking magazine subscriptions.


They’ve got to be filled with the Seven Good Luck Ingredients (eel, pink fish powder, egg, cucumber, dried bonito, mushrooms and rice), and eaten like jumbo cigars, not cut. Do not snarf these down until you’ve consulted your smartphone GPS compass, so you can turn to face this year’s Lucky Direction.

This year, it’s NNW. And even if Godzilla himself asks you where to find the nearest bridge to destroy, don’t talk to ANYBODY until you’ve swallowed the last bite.

If you’re in Tokyo on February 3 and would like to go to a Setsubun ceremony, I recommend Senso-ji in Asakusa or Zojo-ji in Kamiyacho – where you get to see celebs and sumo wrestlers toss the beans and prizes – but they have ceremonies at many of the best shrines & temples in Tokyo.

The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for
Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

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