Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Setsubun – Driving Demons Out and Luck In

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/22 Traditional Culture , ,

Japan is blessed to have four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. The word setsubun (節分, seasonal division) referred to the days marking the change from one season to the next. So, originally there were four of them, but nowadays, only the day before the beginning of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar, called risshun (立春) is called by that name. Setsubun comes on either February 3 or 4, depending on the year.

Setsubun Origin

In its association with the Lunar New Year, setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year’s Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き, literally “bean scattering”). Setsubun has its origins in tsuina (追儺), a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the eighth century.

Demons Out, Luck In!

On the night of Setsubun, many households do mamemaki – a bean-throwing ceremony. They fill a masu (マスa wooden measuring cup) with roasted soybeans and throw the beans all about the room, shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (鬼は外、福は内) meaning “Out with the goblins and in with fortune!” They also open the windows, throw the beans outside, and slam the door. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them. Mamemaki is also performed to pray for the family’s well-being and good business. The custom of mamemaki first appeared in the Muromachi period. It is usually performed by the toshiotoko (年男) of the household (the male who was born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac, read more about it here), or else the male head of the household.

roasted soybeans

Roasted soybeans. (Photo by asobi tsuchiya on Flickr)

After the mamemaki 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. In some areas in Japan, one for each year of one’s life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.

Families with little children especially look forward to this day because mamemaki can be a lot of fun. One person acts as the goblin and runs around, while the others throw beans at the person. At some schools, the students make goblin masks and enjoy mamemaki.

setsubun

(Image from AC-Illust)

Setsubun Observance Variations

There are variations of the ritual in other areas of Japan. In Kansai region, people eat makizushi on setsubun. It is bow becoming popular nationwide due largely to marketing efforts by grocery and convenience stores. In the Tohoku area of Japan, the head of the household (traditionally the father) would take roasted beans in his hand, pray at the family shrine, and then toss the sanctified beans out the door. Nowadays peanuts (either raw or coated in a sweet, crunchy batter) are sometimes used in place of soybeans. There are many variations on the famous Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi chant. For example, in the city of Aizuwakamatsu, people chant “Oni no medama buttsubuse!” (鬼の目玉ぶっつぶせ, lit. “Smash the demons’ eyes!”).

makizushi

Homemade makizushi. (Photo by asobi tsuchiya on Flickr)

Thanks to the great fun of mamemaki, Setsubun is still a popular traditional event.

What are your thoughts about setsubun and mamemaki? Share it with us in the comments section below!

References:

1. Setsubun. Wikipedia.

2. Setsubun and Bean-Throwing. Web-Japan.

The following two tabs change content below.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

hina dolls

Japanese Events and Celebrations According to Seasons

Japanese people love outdoor activities. During weekends or holidays, they will surely find ways to enjoy hanging out with their family or with friends. They usually go out for a picnic, barbecue party, camping and other sort of fun things to enjoy. Japanese also gather to celebrate the important events held within the country. The […]

Read Article

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okayama Castle: A unique blend of the old and the new

Okayama Castle they say is one of the must see places here in Okayama City, Japan. Well if you have been around cities here a number of them have their own castle. I believe there are about hundreds of them scattered all over Japan. But what then sets this castle apart from the rest of […]

Read Article

furisode

Kimono – Traditional Japanese Clothing

As someone who is not from Japan, when I think of a Japanese traditional garment, I always think of a kimono. We usually see on media as worn by Japanese women during special occasions but did you know that the kimono is not as simple as it looks like? Or did you know that there […]

Read Article

eating utensils

Chopsticks in the Japanese Way: History and Etiquette

Lohb’s photo in Flickr Can you eat using your bare hands? Or you need spoon and fork? Or perhaps a knife? Well for me, sometimes I do prefer eating using my hands and I am lucky there is no issue with it in our country. We used to eat using spoon and fork but oftentimes […]

Read Article

Go

Let’s Play “Go”! – How to Play the Board Game Go

The game Go is a quest to conquer territories. One of the two players uses black stones and the other white stones to mark out their respective territories. The player who has captured more territory at the end of the game is the winner. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts […]

Read Article

shogi pieces

Shogi, The General’s Board Game – History and Origin

In my last series of posts, we learned about the board game Go. Another popular Japanese board is the Shogi. It is also known as the Japanese chess or the General’s Game. In this series, we will learn its history, how to play it, and its influence to popular culture. Origin of “Shogi” The word […]

Read Article

Date Masamune Tanbo Art

Amazing Rice Paddy Art in Inakadate

People make art almost everywhere: canvasses, walls, streets, and rice fields. Wait, rice fields? Yes, you read it right. Rice paddy art or known as Tanbo art (田んぼアート) in Japan is the best thing to happen to rice fields before the rice are harvested and served on our plates. Inakadate, Aomori Inakadate is a village […]

Read Article

kana cards

Kotoba Asobi: Goroawase

Goroawase (語呂合わせ) is a form of Japanese wordplay whereby homophonous words are associated with a given series of letters, numbers or symbols, in order to associate a new meaning with that series. The new words can be used to express a superstition about certain letters or numbers. More commonly, however, goroawase is used as a […]

Read Article

shogi

Shogi, The General’s Board Game – Board and Gameplay

In our previous posts about shogi, we learned its history and the pieces that make the game. In this post, we will learn more about the moves of each piece. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June 3, 2015 […]

Read Article

Honguu of the Konpira Shrine

Due south: Konpira Shrine in Kagawa – Part 3 –

Konpira in Kagawa (3) Konpira Shrine (3) [Shoin (Library building)] To reach here, you must walk up nearly 500 steps in total. The original meaning of “shoin” was a room used as a sitting room as well as a library of the master, but since around 1600, it has referred to a whole building. This […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑