February 3 is “Setsubun” in Japan.
What exactly is Setsubun? Let me explain!
What is Setsubun and how is it celebrated?
Setsubun is written in Kanji.
Each of them means “節(Setsu)” means season and “分(bun)” means to divide.
In other words, it means “seasonal division”.
In ancient Japan, spring was considered the beginning of the year and was a particularly important time.
Only the day separating winter and spring is now called “Setsubun”.
Today, Setsubun day is to “dispel evil spirits and bring happiness”.
*By the way, it is not a national holiday.
What should be done on Setsubun?
It has been believed that evil spirits (demons) arise at the change of seasons.
Incidentally, oni are called “鬼(Oni)” in Japan.
To get rid of this “Oni”, beans are scattered.
These are the beans used in Setsubun.
Now, let me show you how to do the bean-throwing!
1.The bean-throwing ceremony is held at night.
Since Oni comes at night, it is recommended that bean throwing be done at night.
2.It is the head of the family who sows the beans
It is basically considered the role of the patriarch. However, in recent years, it is also considered “an event for the whole family to enjoy together,” so it is OK to scatter beans together.
3.Sow beans while saying “Oni ha soto! Fuku ha uchi!”
“Oni ha soto!” and throw beans at the entrance of the house, windows, and other places where ogres are likely to invade.
Then immediately close doors and windows.
After that, the beans are thrown around the room while saying “Fuku ha uchi!”.
4.Finally, eat the number of beans that is your age + 1.
After the bean-throwing ceremony at home is over, we eat beans for the last time, hoping to ward off bad luck for the year. Eat one more bean than your age.
Why do oni dislike beans?
By the way, why do we sow beans on this Setsubun?
I was taught as a child that Oni didn’t like beans.
Research shows that Japanese people originally believed that spiritual power resided in crops because they were active in agriculture.
Nowadays it is beans, but in the past, rice and wheat were also used.
There is also a legend that people escaped disaster by blinding ogres with beans (lol).
What do you eat during Setsubun?
The most major food eaten on Setsubun day is “ehomaki”.
You can read more about it in this article.
Apart from ehomaki, the following foods are also eaten on Setsubun day.
Sardine (esp. the sardine of the Japanese pilchard)
It was believed and eaten by Oni because of its strong smell when baked, which Oni did not like.
In Japan, the day when winter turns to spring was originally considered “New Year’s Eve”.
For this reason, soba, which is currently eaten on New Year’s Eve, is sometimes eaten on this Setsubun day as well.