Setsubun Festival in Japan

According to the lunar calendar, February 3rd traditionally marks the start of spring in Japan.  A festival called Setsuban, which means seasonal division, is celebrated each year.  It is filled with many traditions to welcome the new season. 

Mamemaki

People participate in this tradition by throwing dried soybeans to ward off evil and bring good luck.  At home, it is popular for children to throw beans at a family member dressed up as an oni (demon). 

Throwing beans at a blue faced oni

Shrines around the country hold large events where celebrities born in the same year of the current Chinese zodiac occasionally throw beans into the crowds.

Sensoji Temple

It is considered good luck to eat the number of beans for your age plus one.

Ehomaki

A special sushi roll called ehomaki is eaten for Setsuban.  The roll must be eaten in one sitting and in complete silence. You must also face a certain lucky direction (the eho) which changes every year according to a 5 year cycle.  The 2019 direction was east-north-east.

Ehomaki and a red faced oni mask

If you are in Tokyo next year around Setsuban, witness the festivities at Sensoji or Zojoji Temples.  You can even try the lucky makizushi roll which is sold in many stores.

2 Comments

  1. Quinn Lillie
    February 12, 2019 / 9:10 pm

    Did you follow tradition and eat the beans

    • quinncandace
      Author
      February 14, 2019 / 12:25 am

      I did in school! Belly full of 33 of them 🙂

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