Setsubun Bean-Throwing Festival

「鬼は外!福は内!(Devils Out! Fortune In!)」

On the 3rd of February every year, you might hear these words around your friend’s or other people’s places in Japan. But what does it mean? Where does it come from? And who are the devils??

You might get a clue from the word “Setsubun” if you have heard it before.

In Japan, February 3rd is the date of Setsubun. Setsubun literally means “Seasonal Division.” Japanese people celebrate Setsubun on either the 3rd of February, the last day of winter, or the day before the spring season on the present calender. Bean-Throwing, called mamemaki, is done at home on the day of Setsubun. People scatter roasted soy beans inside and outside their houses shouting, “Fortune in, devils out.” They scatter beans to drive away evil and bring in good luck. Then they eat the same number of beans as their age and wish for good health.

Bean is “mame” in Japanese and Throwing is “maki (maku)” in Japanese.

This tradition dates back to the 8th century and for a time had some association with New Year’s Eve (lunar new year) as it was a time to get rid of all of the evils of the previous year and drive away evil spirits in the new year. Originally it was the job of the head of the household to either throw beans out the door, or at another relative who was wearing the mask of an oni (demon).

Would you like to try and invite fortune into your home!?

We visited Two places, Zōjō-ji 増上寺 (You may recognized this place from the movie “The Wolverine (2013)” and Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin 豊川稲荷東京別院 (This place is famous for entertainers and marchants, it is believed to bring prosperity for businesses and to invite success).

They are famous for Setsubun Festival. You can meet Japanese famous people, singers, sumo wrestlers and actors and join setsubun events.

You can get soy beans and other snacks from throwers. Sometimes these can be wrapped in silver or gold foil.

 Zojo-ji temple 増上寺

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Toyokawa Inari Tokyo Betsuin 豊川稲荷東京別院

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