節分 (せつぶん – Setsubun)
Setsubun is a fun traditional day that is celebrated on February 3rd and is known in English as “Bean-throwing Festival.”
Setsubun literally means “seasonal division.” It is celebrated on the day before the first day of Spring 立春 (りっしゅん – risshun) and the new year according to the 旧暦 (きゅうれき – kyuureki – Japan’s old lunar calendar).
What do we do on Setsubun? ~ doing Mamemaki (まめまき or 豆まき) = “bean throwing.” ~
We throw roasted soybeans outside the house or at an 鬼 (おに – oni – demon) to drive away the bad spirits/bad luck. Often times, a father will dress up as an oni and his children throw the beans at him. And also we throw the soybeans inside the house to bring good luck to your family.
When you are throwing the beans, there is a chant that you must do:
「鬼は外！福は内！」 = Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! = Demons out! Good fortune in!
This will get rid of bad luck and invite in good luck. After you throw the beans, you are supposed to pick them up and eat the number of equal to your age in the hope that this will get your good health and good luck.
Actually there are many kinds of 節分豆 (setsubun mame). This colorful sugar-coated variety is very popular!
Major Setsubun Events Around Tokyo
A lot of shrines or temples hold a “mamemaki” throwing soybeans event. Some of the big shrines or temples have celebrities, politicians and sumo wrestlers as guests to throw beans to crowds. For those who haven’t bean to a real Setsubun event yet, below are some of the most popular ceremonies in and around Tokyo. Thousands of people join this event and the battle for bean catches!
Setsubun Festival at;
Zojoji Temple (is one of the largest such events in Tokyo.)
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Ikegami Honmonji Temple
Kawasaki Daishi Setsubun
Asakusa Sensoji Templen