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Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!

Rough translation: Devil stay out! Fortune come in! Japanese families may chant this while throwing roasted beans indoors on the lunar new year's eve (either Feb. 3rd or Feb. 4th). The word setsubun means a change in seasons. It also is the name of a tradition where from the young to the old throws roasted beans inside their house to wish misfortune to stay out, and good fortune to come in. Often someone would dress up as an oni, usually with just a mask, but occasionally the adults go overboard with costumes and acting, and end up horrifying little children.

The oni can be translated as an ogre, but a good translation does not really exist. In story books, an oni is depicted as red-skinned or blue-skinned with horns and curly hair, naked save underpants made of tiger skin, carrying around a spikey metal rod. Historically, this Japanese tradition has existed for quite a while, but the practice of throwing beans started during the Edo era, from a kyogen play about a devil seducer who in the end is chased away with beans.

Sources:
  • Goo Dictionary (http://dictionary.goo.ne.jp - site in Japanese)
  • setsubun, oni out, happiness in (http://www2.gol.com/users/stever/setsubun.htm)