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Setsubun (節分) - Last Day of Winter
3 February

image: mameWhat is Setsubun?

Setsubun (節分) is celebrated throughout Japan. It is a "Season boundary" - the day before the beginning of each Season (spring, summer, autumn and winter).

What is the Spring Setsubun called?

The Spring Setsubun is called Risshun (立春).

Over the years, the word Setsubun has changed to mean only the day before the first day of Spring, as Spring was considered to be the beginning of a New Year.

When is Risshun celebrated?

It is celebrated yearly on 3rd or 4th February as part of the Spring Festival (春祭, Haru Matsuri).

image: oni and maneWhat happens at the Spring Festival?

Mame-maki (豆撒き bean scattering)

Japanese people chant "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" while throwing soybeans (mame). They do this to chase away the evil Oni (鬼 ogres, evil spirits).

Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi !
Out with the goblins and in with fortune!"

After the mame-maki is over, everyone eats the same number of beans as their own age. It is believed that by doing so, people will be free of sickness during that year.

At large temples, throughout Japan, monks or celebrities also shower large crowds with mame to ward off spirits and welcome the renewal of the coming New Year.

What traditional food is eaten on this day?

Special sushi rolls called Eho-maki (恵方巻) (Lit. "lucky direction roll") are eaten on Setsubun. They are eaten whole in one go while facing the yearly lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year. This years lucky direction is west‐southwest

image:Eho-maki
Eho-maki

 

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