Size 21 inch x 16 inch (51cm x 41cm)
Sunday, 28 February 2021
My ONI is well behaved with a good table etiquette, besides I really don’t wanna know what he is eating, he deserves a spot light for a change. I know my treatment of ONI is unusual and here’s why. Calling out loudly ‘Demons Out!’ ‘Fortune In!,’ the entire family gets involved to mark the end of winter and start throwing dry soybeans at an ‘ONI’ (Demon, Goblin, Ogre, Monster, whatever English translation would be suited) which is most often played by a dad wearing a paper mask of ‘ONI.’ This rather chaotic and messy event is a traditional ritual Japanese perform called ‘Setsubun’ (roughly meaning celebrating the coming of spring) and takes place on the 3rd of February every year.
Anyway, I remember my mum used to buy a bag of dry soybeans from supermarket, after we finish throwing some out the window and some inside the house, we collect the ones remained inside the house for her to roast them. Because we supposed to eat pieces matching the number of one’s age plus one for a sign of good luck. Therefore I am very glad I no longer celebrate it today. ONI are the mythical creatures from the folklore tales, normally depicted to have 2 huge horns on his head with short curly hair and very sharp fangs. They are gigantic, head to toe in red, blue or yellow colour and seem to be wearing a tiger (skin) pattern pants.
They always carry a huge spiky iron club. One of famous proverbs derives from this image. ‘ONI ni kanabou’ (Demon with an iron club) signifies even a most vulnerable person can be empowered with other’s help just like a case of the powerful combo – a demon and a weapon – can become invincible. Another interesting idiom with ONI goes like ‘do laundry whilst the demon is away.’ This expression is equivalent to ‘when the cats away, the mice will play.’ We can almost picture when sneaky children (or adults) locate a hidden cookie jar in the kitchen cupboard whilst mum is away, can’t we? Oh and we should never talk about next year, if we do, ONI will laugh at us.
ONI are believed to steal children and eat them. The peach boy is a role model of exemplifying his filial piety by beating ONI and made his foster parents proud. I am not up to speed with a recent trend of anime industry but at least noises of ‘Kimetsu no yaiba’ (demon slayer) I did catch. I believe its movie sale surpassed the record sales of Spirited Away and became numero uno last December. Surprisingly, the story of fighting against ‘ONI’ fascinates people across the world and beyond the passage of time.
More we think about it, we are constantly facing our own inner demons and fighting not to get succumb into them. There is a concept of ten kinds of troops who are designated to perturb and obstruct people (Nichiren Buddhism Library). Of course troops means personifications of hindrances, nevertheless sometimes I find myself very difficult to stay focused on what I am supposed to be doing. I must admit it is a constant struggle which never goes away. So I shall give my blue ONI a credit for his well-behaviour!