February 3rd, Setsubun: Bean throwing

By Yoshi, January 31, 2011

“Setsubun” (せつぶん, 節分) literally means “the day between two seasons”. Although It’s not a public holiday, it’s one of annual events in Japan and “Bean throwing”, called “mame-maki” (まめまき, 豆まき), is done at home on the day of “Setsubun” (the 3rd or sometimes 4th of February) between winter and spring according to the lunisolar calendar.

On the evening of this day, Japanese people open doors and windows of their houses and drive the demons (i.e. bad luck) out of their homes and gardens by throwing handfuls of beans and shouting “Devils out! Fortune in!” (Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!, “おにはそと、ふくはうち”, “鬼は外、福は内!”)
“Devils (Oni wa) out (soto)!”

“Fortune (Fuku wa) in (uchi)!”


Then we eat the same number of beans as their age and wish for good health. Bean is “mame” (まめ, 豆) in Japanese and means good health.
Beans for the day of “Sestsubun” are sold at many stores from the middle of January.

In the “Kansai” region (the west parts of Japan, around Osaka), there is an interesting custom on the day of “Setsubun”. They eat a big whole Sushi roll called “Ehou-maki” (えほうまき, 恵方巻き) for luck while facing the lucky direction, called “Ehou” (えほう, 恵方).

The Sushi rolls have 7 ingredients. “7″ is a lucky number and these ingredients have special meaning associated with good luck. People can not cut the roll and must eat the whole roll in total silence :) And the lucky direction changes every year! This year’s lucky direction is “south-southeastt” (なんなんとう, 南南東)!

Eating “Ehou-maki” is not so popular in Tokyo, but nowadays, the Sushi rolls are sold at many stores in Tokyo.

And “Setsubun” events (mainly beans throwing) takes place at many temples and shrines in Tokyo.
“Setsubun events at temples (in Japanese)”
“Setsubun” is an interesting custom, isn’t it?
if you are in Japan on 3rd February, please experience “Setsubun”!