Yesterday, February 3rd, was the setsubun day here in Japan; which supposedly marks the end of the winter season (a little bit early) and the beginning of spring. According to tradition, in setsubun day you have to scare demons away and eliminate everything bad that happened the previous year; to achieve this you have to perform a series of rituals using beans.

One of the most usual ritual is the mamemaki, which consists in throwing beans around to purify the house or the company (it is usually done in the balcony or in the entrance hall). The beans frighten evil spirits away and bring good luck. While you throw around the beans you have to say loudly “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!”(鬼は外福は内), which translates to something similar to “Go away demons! Good luck come!

Another tradition is to eat as many beans as years you have lived plus one extra bean which will bring good luck for the incoming year.


This video in Spanish and Japanese of Ai and Ale/Pepino shows the setsubun rituals.

1 reply on “Setsubun”

I just heard about this the other day in Japanese class Apparently there are several different variations of it. In my professor’s family they would grab a handful of beans out of a bowl, and you could only eat the beans when you managed to grab the exact amount of your age. Then they would store the rest of the beans and eat them when they heard the first thunder of the year for protection and good luck.

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