6 Interesting Tips to Enjoy “Setsubun”!

6 Interesting Tips to Enjoy “Setsubun”!

“Setsubun” is one of Japanese festival that most Western people don’t know what it is about. If you start living in Japan or visit there during February, it would be interesting to know what this festival is about, so that you can participate. Today I will tell you all about “Setsubun” and how you can enjoy it!



 

6 Interesting Tips to Enjoy “Setsubun”!

 

1. What is “Setsubun”?

On the 3rd or the 4th of February (depending on year), many people celebrate “Setsubun” in Japan, which literally means “the division of season” in Japanese. In old Japanese calendar, the first day of spring starts at the beginning of February. It is also believed that evil spirits can enter your home when the season changes. Therefore we celebrate “Setsubun” to get rid of evil spirits on this day.

 

2. What do people do in “Setsubun”?

As it is a festival to chase away evil spirits, there is a ceremony that we perform at home on this day: that’s “mame maki” which means “bean throwing.” In fact, it’s a ceremony to throw roasted soybeans inside and outside the house while chasing “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi”, meaning “Evil outside! Happiness inside!” It has been said that grains, including soybeans, are capable of revitalizing and preventing evil spirits to come near you.

 

3. How to do “mame maki” at home?

In order to perform “mame maki”, you can go to any supermarket to purchase soybeans called ‘Fukumame’ that usually comes with the mask of ‘oni’ which is Japanese demon. In a family, father wears the oni mask and pretend to be an evil spirit. Children, then, throw the soybeans at him while chanting. First, throw the beans at the oni (hence at the farther) outside while chasing “oni wa soto!” Then throw them inside the house after closing windows, while chanting “fuku wa uchi!” Although the modern custom now indicates fathers to play the role of oni, it used be the male breadwinner of the house who was responsible for throwing the beans in the past. Interesting, don’t you think?

 

4. Celebrate “Setsubun” at a shrine or a temple

It would be a great experience to participate the “Setsubun” festival at a shrine or a temple, in addition to celebrating at home. The bean throwing ceremony is also performed at shrines or temples, only priests throw small bags with roasted soybeans inside for us to catch. In famous places, celebrities or athletes are invited to throw soybean bags. You can take back those small bags and do mame maki in your house as well.

 

5. Different ways of celebrating Setsubun in different regions of Japan

If you are traveling around different regions of Japan, it’s interesting to see some regions don’t throw soybeans during this festival. In fact, in regions of Hokkaido, Tohoku and some parts of Kyushu, they use peanuts instead of soybeans. There is no particular meaning why people throw peanuts in these regions, except that peanuts don’t get dirty when it fall on the ground because they are covered in shell. Some temples in different regions also throw mandarin orange, snacks or mochi during this festival. It would be interesting to see the difference.

 

6. Eat the same number of soybeans as your age

After you have chased away evil spirits from your house, you can finally enjoy eating the roasted soybeans. It is a Japanese tradition to eat the same number of soybeans as your age. It is said that you will keep the good health if you do so. It is also a moment when being older have an advantage of eating more soybeans than younger people!

 

Conclusion

Since “Setsubun” is a special festival that only exist in Japan, I hope you will be able to participate it and do as natives do. It is also an amusing ceremony, especially for children. I hope you will enjoy it while you are in Japan!

 

6 Interesting Tips to Enjoy “Setsubun”!

1. What is “Setsubun”?
2. What do people do in “Setsubun”?
3. How to do “mame maki” at home?
4. Celebrate “Setsubun” at a shrine or a temple
5. Different ways of celebrating Setsubun in different regions of Japan
6. Eat the same number of soybeans as your age