Beware of Oni (Japanese Ogre)
During Setsubun (in February), Japanese people celebrate clearing ONI from their homes. People chant in Japanese, "Oni wa soto. Fukuwa uchi." (Oni out. Good Luck in.) Part of the custom involves throwing dried
soybeans at an Oni in the house. Usually,
the father dresses up as the Oni.
The Oni has been a large part of Japanese culture for hundreds of years and many folktails include stories about Oni.
One of the most famous is the story of Momotarou (Peach boy). Momotarou was born in a giant peach. An elderly woman found his giant peach floating down a river. After pulling the peach from the river she showed her discover to her husband. Suddenly the peach popped open and there was Momotarou.
When Momotarou grew up to be a young man he left his 'parents' and went off to find treasure. On his way, he befreinded a monkey, a dog, and a bird. He and his companions went to Oni Island. There they slew some of the ogres and stole their fortunes. They then returned home with the goods.
If you get a chance, you can participate in Sestubun at a Buddhist temple. There you can get a chance to dress up as an Oni yourself and throw candy and gifts to children.
It's fun. I've done it twice. The Oni for this particular ceremony don't look scary.
I dressed as a Red Ogre (Aka-Oni) for Halloween 2001. I wanted to be the scariest looking Oni people had ever seen. What do you think?