Who knew that demons could be this adorable?
It’s setsubun in Japan, the official start of spring. The festival is usually celebrated by children throwing beans to drive demons out of their family home, shouting: “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (“Out with the demons! In the with good luck!”), with their parents often being forced to dress as said demon and make a show of being shooed away by their kids’ impressive bean-throwing.
Arguably the two most famous Japanese oni are Red Oni and Blue Oni. If you haven’t heard their tale, then we’ve got you covered with a summary below, but first check out these penguins at Tohoku’s Safari Park dressed up as the popular pair:
▼ “The ‘scary’ Red and Blue Penguin Oni are back this year. But don’t worry, you don’t have to shoo them away – these oni bring good luck!”
今年も怖〜い鬼ペンギン達がやって来ました。 ところが彼らは福を呼ぶのです。 玄関前にやって来た際は、追い返さずに迎え入れてあげて下さいね！ https://t.co/SJw6aBjPZ7—
東北サファリパーク サル劇場 (@sarugekijo_) February 03, 2016
▼ Those are some pretty swanky afros they’re sporting there, complete with a
single horn coming out the top, and animal pelts to intimidate their foes.
▼ “All right! Let’s go scare some adventurers!”
“Or we can just stay here and eat fish.”
“…All right. Let’s eat fish, then go scare some adventurers!”
▼ “You! Adventurer! …uh, do you have any fish?”
▼ Their story will go down in myths and legends as
Blue Penguin Oni and Red Penguin Oni: Fierce Defenders of Their Fish.
For those unfamiliar with the tale of the Red Oni and Blue Oni, here’s a quick rundown of the story:
Once upon a time Red Oni and Blue Oni lived deep in the mountains in Japan. Red Oni loved human children and wanted to be their friend, but every time he invited the children to play with him, they ran away in fear.
Seeing his friend frustrated, Blue Oni decided to help. He came up with a plan, and told Red Oni to visit the human children again. Red Oni did, but as soon as the children saw him, they ran away.
But then Blue Oni showed up and pretended to terrorize the children. He told Red Oni to pretend to beat him up, so Red Oni did, and Blue Oni ran away, pretending to be scared. When the children saw Red Oni save them, they were so happy that they became his friend.
After playing with his human friends, Red Oni went back home in the mountains and found a letter from Blue Oni. It read:
‘Dear Red Oni, if the children find out that you’re my friend, they won’t play with you anymore. So I’m leaving. Please continue to be happy with the children. Goodbye. Blue Oni.’
Red Oni was so sad he cried out: “Blue Oni is gone! My friend Blue Oni is gone!”
And Red Oni and Blue Oni never saw each other again.
Yikes! Quite the tear-jerker of a tale for sure. But no need to worry about the penguin-oni pair ending up the same way; their small, somewhat ridiculous appearance tends to inspire more giggles and smiles than shrieks of terror.