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Annual Events ->January~March

What is Setsubun (Bean Throwing Tradition) in Japan?

更新日:

The original post is here ->節分とは?節分と豆まきの由来を調べてみた

This is an English translated version. If you are studying Japanese, then I strongly suggest you read the original Japanese post as well!


 

In Japan, one of the main events in February is Setsubun (節分).

So to explain about this day to my Nepalese husband, today I researched about Setsubun.

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What is Setsubun?

 

Originally, Setsubun means "a day that divides seasons" as the Kanji suggests (節分:節 is a Kanji used in the word season and 分 means to separate).

There were four of these days in a year, each a day before Rishun, Rikka, Rishu and Ritou (each representing the beginning of each season: spring, summer, fall and winter).

 

So why is there only one day that is called Setsubun now?

In ancient Japan, Rishun (beginning of spring) was regarded especially important as it represented the beginning of a new year. As a result, gradually only the spring's Setsubun was left.

 

Many people think that Setsubun is on February 3rd every year, however, that is not the case.

Since Setsubun is the day before Rishun, it changes depending on the day of Rishun.

In 2018, it is on February 3rd, but depending on the year, it can be on February 2nd or 4th.

The day of Rishun changes depending on the positioning of the sun and the earth.

 

The Origin of Mamemaki (Bean Throwing)

man throwing beans to oni

 

*Setsubun is known as the day to throw beans to demons.

Because Setsubun was the day before Rishun, it was like New Year's Eve.

During the Heian period (794-1185), in the Imperial Court, there was an event in which people exorcised bad luck. This was introduced to Japan from ancient China.

On the night of Setsubun, it was thought that demons appear.

In the Muromachi period (1336-1573), this event turned into an event where people threw beans to run off the demons and was practiced by common people.

 

The Correct Way of Throwing Beans

 

roasted soy beansThe soy beans you use for Mamemaki (豆まき:throwing beans) must be roasted beans, known as Fukumame (福豆).

 

If you use raw beans, when you throw them and forget to pick them up, it would sprout, which was considered bad luck.

 

Since the demons or Oni (鬼) appear at night, the bean scattering should be done at night.

One of the family members would wear a Oni mask and act as the Oni.

Originally, the head of the household is supposed to throw the beans but in modern days, this has changed and in many families, all of the family members would throw the beans.

When doing the Mamemaki, you would say "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi" (鬼は外、福は内:demons outside, good luck inside)

After the Mamemaki is done, you would eat the same number of beans as your age and wish to be protected against evils.

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How to Eat Ehomaki

 

ehomakiEhomaki is another important component of Setsubun.

Ehomaki (恵方巻き) is a thick sushi roll which includes many ingredients.

Due to the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, it is ideal to have seven ingredients.

 

To not cut fate and luck, you should not cut Ehomaki and prepare one per person.

You would eat facing the direction the God with good luck is at that year. (In 2018, it is south-southeast)

This direction is called Eho (恵方).

When eating, you must not talk and just eat while making a wish.

 


 

Now I can confidently explain what Setsubun is to my husband(*`・ω・´)و

When our son is a little bigger next year, I'm looking forward to doing Mamemaki in our family as well♪・゚

 

*Thanks for reading! If you didn't understand anything or if my English is incomprehensible, grammatically wrong, please feel free to comment below:) Would help a lot!

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-Annual Events, ->January~March

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