License to Terrify

One of the nursery schools invited me to participate in a special event last week called Setsubun. It’s a cultural event celebrated all over Japan. To celebrate, some people dress up as demons, and others throw beans at the demons. The point of throwing the beans at the demons is to make them run away so they can’t scare people – the whole event symbolizes warding away evil each year. I participated in the demon class. This class has the oldest kids in the school. We spent a week making paper-mache masks. I was meticulous with mine. The morning of the event, one of the teachers told me if the younger kids were crying, I did my job right. I was supposed to actually terrify them. The purpose of the event is to teach the kids to confront real fear and overcome it over the course of several years’ events. I liked the idea – teaching kids to deal with powerful emotions like that through actual experience seemed like a valuable lesson to me. All of the kids were showered in candy to reward them for their bravery at the end of the event. We (the demons) were given tinfoil machetes to top it all off – I thought it was a nice touch. Some kids responded better than others (see Emi’s nephew in the blue coat).




















































































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