Japanese Bean Tradition

Type: Folk Tradition/Superstition

  1. “When we lived in Japan, we learned about this tradition. On the last day before spring, you get a can of beans and throw them out the window, or just anywhere outside. Everyone did it and we were VERY confused at first, but after we asked around, by the second year we were living there we picked up on it. The idea is that you are throwing out the bad spirits. This tradition goes back hundreds of years. If you throw beans out your window at home for instance, that would signify removing the bad spirits you’re your home specifically.”
  2. I obtained this piece of folklore from my mother, who spend two years living in Japan as a child. Her father, my grandfather, was a psychiatrist in the air force and they were stationed in Japan, in the city of Tachi Kawa. They lived on an army base but they made many Japanese friends that living in the area. My mother obtained this folklore by first observing it and then eventually, her parents asked around. She remembers being incredibly confused about it as a child—seeing beans all over the street outside the base.
  3. No one in my family knows or remembers why beans, or the context behind the tradition. All they knew was that many Japanese people did that, and so many people believed that it worked. My grandparents have been back many times since the 1960’s when they left, but they have never been back in the spring and so they essentially forgot about it.
  4. I love this tradition. I think it has a lot of character and it is unique. I have never really heard of anything else like it. I am also drawn to the idea of purifying places from bad spirits which are believed to bring back luck and bad health. It might be a placebo effect but it would still make me feel better about my life and those around me.