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Unagi Sayaka, Tam Nakano and More Celebrate Setsubun with Full Crowd

5 months ago Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu

Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu

Unagi Sayaka, Tam Nakano and More Celebrate Setsubun with Full Crowd

Unagi, Tam Nakano and Other Japanese Icons Demolish Demons, Chart Destiny at Annual Setsubun Festival

By: Thom Fain

Forget that guy “finishing his story” over in the States, Japan’s Feb. 3 tradition would have left your disappointed hearts feeling refreshed and renewed – all against a backdrop of tradition, beauty and majesty. On this day in Japan, it’s Setsubun, a time when people across the nation band together, pray and battle mythical ogres with… sacks of beans!

MP was in attendance at Ikegami Hommon-ji Temple, where the Kabukimono Unagi Sayaka joined STARDOM’s Tam Nakano, AJPW’s Saito Brothers, the legend Tatsumi Fujinami to honor this year’s festivities by tossing magic beans, or, fukumame into a joyous crowd on a chilly Saturday afternoon.

What’s With Setsubun?

Although more modern crowds know it’s all a work, the kayfabe story for why these magical beans were needed back in the Middle Ages surrounded Oni – ferocious demons hellbent on terrorizing homes and schools.

In the underworld, those magic beans act like silver bullets against vampires, where brave kids and older villagers would pelt the demons with the beans, shouting, “Demons out, luck in!” 

Why the Temple Setting?

Banding together to pray for good fortune and a fruitful year ahead, temples and shrines are important as the setting for this annual festival. After all, these oni aren’t just your average Super Mario villain. They’re ancient badasses, blamed for bringing sickness and misfortune. But Setsubun, which means “seasonal division”, marks the shift from winter’s darkest days towards spring’s fresh start. It’s a time when spirits run wild, and people fight back

The Bean Blast (…not the Gene Blast)

Tossing fukumame is like a superhero food fight. The beans, which are linked to harvest celebrations, are like magical munitions, repelling evil and, according to some, even offering radical health benefits.

Trying to get some size on you? Catch those beans from the Kabukimono or the #1 Kawaii of the Universe, make a wish and make it happen.

To truly devour your destiny, eat the same number of beans as your age for guaranteed good luck in the coming year.

A Zodiac Smackdown and the Modern Setsubun

Traditionally, family members born under specific zodiac signs took on the oni role. Imagine your grandpa transforming into a grumpy ogre, taking bean-battling to a whole new level – but the modern style involves having the whole family celebrate. Today, Setsubun is a joyous family affair. Kids rock homemade ogre masks, while the bean-flinging duty falls to parents or zodiac-chosen family members. Those lucky legumes are tossed by figures of pop culture, and the crowd still chants it all the same… “Demons out, luck in!” while embracing the spirit of the season and having a blast.

After, families might eat ehōmaki, special sushi rolls eaten in a certain direction for extra luck.

All Photos by Masahiro Kubota for Monthly Puroresu

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