Let’s do Mame-maki! / Setsubun 2016

Have you ever heard about Setsubun?

Setsubun indicates the day before risshun which means the first day of spring. Setsubun comes on either February 3 or 4, depending on the year. Setsubun is not a national holiday. Setsubun is one day before the start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar.

According to Japanese tradition, on the day of Setsubun, many people do mame-maki – a bean-throwing ceremony. These beans are called fuku mame (fortune beans.) The custom of throwing roasted soybeans has been in Japan since ancient times. People throw roasted soybeans while saying “Demons out, happiness in” to prevent evil demons (which calls 鬼 「オニ」“Oni” in Japanese) from coming into one’s house. It is believed that the demons can be expelled by throwing beans, and the fortune will come to person’s house.

In modern days, the most commonly performed setsubun ritual is the throwing of roasted beans around one’s house or temples and shrines across Japan. When throwing the beans, you are supposed to shout “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!”

After the mame-maki is over, you should pick up and eat the number of beans, which corresponds to your age. According to the old Japanese tradition it will bring you a good health and you will be free of sickness during that year.

Bean-Throwing ceremony

Usually people fill a masu (a wooden measuring cup) with roasted soybeans and throw the beans around the house chanting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which meaning “Demons out! Luck in!” Then Japanese also open the windows and throw the soybeans outside. Mame-maki began as a New Year ceremony (in the traditional Japanese calendar) to drive away evil spirits and bad luch, after that Japanese poeple pray for the family’s happiness and success.

Afterwards everyone eats the same number of beans equal to their age.

Bean throwing ceremonies are held at many temples and shrines around Japan. People visit shrines and temples to pick up beans to get a fortune. Moreover Japanese sumo wrestlers, often participate in mamemaki at famous temples and shrines.

Setsubun is becoming very popular among foreigners in Japan. Those who is interested in Japanese culture would love Setsubun festival, because it is very traditional event. Many foreigners who study or work in Japan enjoy participation in bean-throwing ceremony with their friends and family. It is fun to join other people who try to catch the beans in temples or shrines. If you like to go deep into Japanese culture, Setsubun festival is one of traditions you should learn about.

Furthermore there is one more Japanese custom on Setsubun called eho-maki which means eating fortune sushi rolls. Almost everybody likes sushi! This is twice as nice if sushi rolls bring you a good luck.

Work in Japan and enjoy Setsubun festival with us in 2016.

Good luck and happiness to everyone!