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Japanese Men And Women Take Part In The Festival

8:39 AM, Feb 4, 2013   |    comments
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  - Hundreds of Japanese men and women went into a frenzy on Sunday as they throw over a ton of soybeans in a festival that follows Japanese age-old traditions.

The tradition, called "Mamemaki" is normally held in a shrine where only a handful of roasted soybeans per person are used in a less dynamic way.

Instead, each of the 800 participants gathered inside the landmark Tokyo Tower was given a pair of goggles and two kilograms of soybeans that they throw hard to the imaginary demons during two-hour event.

It is a spring ritual held on the "setsubun," the eve of the spring equinox, which comes on every February 3rd or 4th.

Japanese people believe ogres begin plotting evil and mischief on the day, and by throwing beans, a food that ogres hate, they can drive evil away.

A 24-year-old office worker, Arisa Hasebe, said throwing beans was quite a physical exercise.

"I'm heated up. It's so much fun to throw something this hard, which rarely happens in my daily life," Hasebe said.

Another woman, 28-year-old Kaori Matsunami, aimed to drive away not only the evil, but also the stress.

"I want to vent all my stress by doing this," said Matsunami.

Other participant said the soybean, weigh less than a gram, hurts when they hit.

"The beans actually hurt when they hit, but I'm fully excited and having a lot of fun," Mima Miyamori, a 33-year-old businesswoman, said.

Takao Ozawa, an executive at a Japanese venture capital firm, Yahoo Japan Capital, remodeled the ancient tradition into a modern festivity last year. He says he was inspired by the world-renown Tomatina Festival of the eastern Spanish town of Bunol, that attracts up to 50,000 revellers from the world each summer.

"Watching Spain's Tomatina Festival, I wanted to do something similar here in Japan. So I searched for an idea and found this bean-throwing festival, which I want to develop into a big cultural event," Ozawa said while being hit by beans.

Organizers said the annual event gathered 200 more people this year compare to last year's. No one was injured, they said.

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