Setsubun 節分, the day before the beginning of spring in Japan, is mostly known for two traditional practices, one is eating a giant ehōmaki 恵方巻 futomaki roll, and the other is mamemaki 豆まき, throwing beans (dried roasted soybeans or peanuts in some regions) outside or at someone wearing the mask of an oni (demon) while yelling: "Out with the demons, in with good fortune," or some variant thereof.

The first practice is meant to be done in complete silence and the second one quite vehemently with the clear intent of repelling evil.


It's not hard to see how the novel coronavirus pandemic easily functions as a symbolic stand-in for "evil" this year. If you're living in Japan, tomorrow on Setsubun (February 2nd, this year), the yelling from windows, entrances, and balconies may sound a bit more forceful and maybe even angry as people unwittingly (or intentionally) channel all their pent-up pandemic-borne emotions into the ritual.

Around this time of year, supermarkets will typically set up displays to sell soybeans to enjoy in the days leading up to Setsubun and, of course, to throw on the actual day.

However, as Twitter user Daba revealed, one supermarket decided to take things up a few notches. In a Tweet that has over 87,000 likes and 28,000 retweets at the time of writing, he showed the supermarket's unconventional display:

Reproduced with permission from Daba だば (@daba3939)

"This event is about throwing beans, isn't it?"

It looks like bean throwing wasn't enough for them. Instead of beans, they lined up cartons of sake called 清洲城信長 鬼ころし Kiyosujō Nobunaga Onikoroshi. Onikoroshi is one of the most ubiquitous sake brands, and you're almost always likely to find them in paper packs at your local convenience store. So, why put out sake instead of beans? It's all in the name. Onikoroshi 鬼殺し literally means: "demon slayer."

Although the original intent in the name was that the sake is so good and potent that demons would get drunk, a more literal meaning is probably hinted at here.

With the word onikoroshi repeated so many times in a row, those demons should get the message.

The post went viral and became a source of laughter for many people, eliciting comments such as:

  • "Hey! I feel sorry for the demons! You don't have to go that far! (lol)"
  • "I laughed at the overkill. At this year's Setsubun, the demons need to watch out..."
  • "It's popular to slay demons instead of driving them away these days."

That last comment was an obvious reference to the international megahit manga and anime series Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.

As another Twitter user shows us, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Another supermarket decided to play it up in their liquor section with a Demon Slayer / Onikoroshi collaboration display:

"There's something just not right about this shrine they set up in my neighborhood supermarket."

You can see the whole "shrine" display, complete with wisteria fronds and images of Tanjirō, Nezuko, Inosuke and Zenitsu, if you click on the Tweet and view the image which stretches vertically beyond what you can see above.

With so much "slaying" power on display, the demons may leave faster than usual. Let's hope that the novel coronavirus will follow suit...

By - grape Japan editorial staff.