Setsubun 節分

Posted February 3rd, 2010 in Japan No Comments »

Today 03/Feb is Setsubun in Japan.  Setsubun literally means “seasonal division”, and we do bean-throwing ceremony.  Yes, people in Japan throw beans on this day, since long long time ago (even before samurai era).

Temples, schools, city halls, families etc held this bean-throwing ceremony.  We use roasted soybeans, and these beans are edible. (yummy!)

If you do this ceremony at home, usually father wears an oni (demon or ogre) mask and other family members throw the beans towards the “oni” while chanting “Oni wa soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” which roughly translate to “Demons out! Luck in!”

The purpose of this ceremony is to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come.  When I was little, however, I just enjoyed throwing beans away everywhere around the house, toilets, school and temples, screaming “Oni wa soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” 🙂

Then, as part of bringing luck in, it is customary to eat these beans, one for each year of one’s life for bringing good luck for the year to come.  If you are age 10, you will need to eat 10 beans.

Of course, the house gets very messy after this ceremony and needs to be cleaned up.  But cleaning is also fun part, try to find tiny beans around the house  🙂  If you have a pet it maybe easier.

And, on Setsubun, we eat a sushi roll called “Eho Maki”.  “Eho Maki” roughly means “lucky direction roll” and it contains 7 lucky ingredients including eel, dashi-maki (omelet) etc.  There are few rules to eat this sushi roll!

It has to be eaten without pause or chatter, while facing the auspicious direction of the year (the yearly lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year)

Remember not to say “delicious” while eating. You have to eat all without speaking!  Oh, and one more thing.  You can’t slice the sushi roll.  You have to move the whole long piece into your mouth and eat just like that.  That’s why “Eho Maki” in convenience stores are all not cut.  Usually “Eho Maki” is thick roll, so you have to open your mouth very wide 🙂

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