Setsubun-Bean Throwing Festival

setsubun-beans throwing festivalIn Japan, we have a bean-throwing festival called “Setsubun” and it is considered the beginning of Spring in Japan. Setsubun (節分)means division of the season, and it refers to the spring season. Setsubun’s official celebration date is February 3rd and it’s not a national holiday but the family with children often celebrate this fun festival for their children. Parents and teachers throw roasted soybeans outside the door of their house or school to chase out the “oni” (evil spirits). I remember my teacher dressed up like an oni and come in to scare us during the class. To be honest, I hated it because it scared me so much.

When you throw the beans, you say “Oni wa Soto! Fuku wa uchi” and it means “Go away oni and happiness/wellbeing come in!” You can find the roasted beans in stores throughout the country during the season and you find small packages of the roasted beans called “Fuku Mame (Happiness Beans) in Japan. The whole point of this festival is to get rid of the bad spirits out of the house and bring good luck. and once the bean throwing is over, we eat them.

According to Wikipedia, “the custom of Mamemaki first appeared in the Muromachi period. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one’s life, and in some areas, one for each year of one’s life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year come.”


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