Japan Australia Pages

Monday, February 4, 2013

Setsubun 2013

Today, February 3rd is Setsubun no hi (節分の日) in Japan, which is a day that marks the change of the season. The word Setsubun literally means a division of the seasons. Setsubun no hi is not an official national holiday, but it is celebrated in ways meant to drive away evil spirits and bad luck and bring in good luck.

The next day, February 4th, is called Risshun (立春) and marks the official start of the spring season in Japan.

Setsubun Traditions and Customs 

It is custom on Setsubun for people of all ages to throw beans and shout “Oni wa soto. Fuku wa uchi”, which basically means out with the demons and in with good luck! It is traditionally believed that the throwing of beans and shouting would drive away the demons of misfortune and thus allow prosperity.

When we throw beans outside of the house, we shout “Oni wa soto”, which means out with the demons. We also throw beans in different rooms of the house to scare away the demons and invite good luck. We do this by facing the good luck direction and shouting “Fuku wa uchi”, which means in with the good luck.

Children will often wear masks representing these bad luck demons.

Oni wa soto

The most famous custom of Setsubun is the mame-maki, or bean throwing. This is held at many Buddhist temples and Shinto Shrines in Japan, where dried beans are thrown to the spectators. People try and catch these beans usually with plastic bags or hats.

Mame-maki at Kano Temple in Gifu

Another tradition is to eat the number of beans corresponding to your age in the current year (2013). 

Another way to celebrate is by eating a big, long, fat, uncut sushi roll called ehomaki. Eho means “good luck direction” and maki means “roll”. You are meant to face the good luck direction (this year it’s south south east) and eat the ehomaki with your eyes closed and without talking.


This year we visited the Setsubun Celebrations at Kano located near the south exit of Gifu JR Station. This place is famous for its huge oni. There were many street vendors selling all kinds of Japanese festival food.

Kano Temple in Gifu

Large Oni at Kano in Gifu
Street Vendors

Here is a video of the mame-maki at Kano, Gifu


  1. Wow, so many things were going on where you live! :)
    Nothing much was going on here, but I do love "Bean Throwing Day" a lot and enjoy it every year (only eating the number of beans that match my actual age is not so much fun ...)

    1. Thanks ZJ, Yeah, quite a bit was going on here in Gifu which was good. I'll try and check out another area next year. I know what you mean. The amount of beans I have to eat now is getting to be way too much :)

  2. One thing I really wish I'd done this year was eat ehoumaki. Last year I has some, and it was really delicious.

    1. Thanks Lynn, Ehoumaki are great aren't they? So many different ones to choose from this year as well :)

  3. I wanna try those ehoumaki too. :)


Share This via Social Media

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...