On the 3rd of February, say goodbye to Winter and Setsubun with us!

2020年 01月27日

According to the lunar calendar, spring starts on February 4 this year in Japan, and the 3rd of February therefore marks the end of winter, the last of the seasons of the year, which ends the previous year. It is therefore a highly symbolic day that gives rise to many rituals and superstitions intended to cast out the “demons” so that we can have a beautiful year to come!

This tradition, which dates back to around the 8th century, would find its origins in China where demons were exorcised before moving on to the following year. Now in Japan, the main rite is the famous mame-maki, which consists in throwing soybeans on the demon, in the temple or at home! What do you mean? You don’t have any demons coming to visit you on the last day of winter? Rest assured, the Japanese neither! It is actually the father who wears a mask and the children throw the beans on him shouting “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!” which literally means “Demons out! Luck inside!”.
Hokusai Oni Soybeans

Oni being chased away by scattered beansHokusai

At this time of the year, we find roasted soybeans and especially demon masks all over Japan, at the supermarket, in the konbini, etc… And it’s even common for celebrities to throw soybeans at the temple on demons for television! It is therefore a very festive and joyful event that will take place all over Japan on February the 3rd. Another tradition is to eat as many roasted soybeans as one's age, adding one more bean in order to wish for much luck for the coming year.

There is also a special food, ehomaki, which is eaten during the Setsubun period. Initially, this kind of giant maki was mostly popular in the Osaka region but tradition has now spread throughout the country! This long and thick roll of maki must be eaten in silence, and facing a particular direction, decided every year! It is usually composed of 7 different ingredients, symbolizing the Seven Lucky Gods of Japan which you can discover with us in Tokyo!


So, if you have a man at home, you’ll have a good excuse to throw soybeans at him by yelling “Demon, out!” for Setsubun,  not sure if this surprise will be appreciated by the victim...



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