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Setsubun 2023: Pelted with Soy Beans to Make Room for Spring

Bean throwing ceremony: Find out ways in which Japanese celebrate Setsbun, the solar calendar date marking the end of winter and the beginning of spring. 



Imagine a holiday in which people voluntarily get pelted in soybeans for good luck. 

Setsubun is a traditional holiday in Japan that marks the end of winter and the start of spring. It falls on February 3. The kanji is written as 節分 (setsu bun), literally translated as "dividing the seasons." 

Japanese have many traditions to mark the day. There is the mame maki, which involves throwing roasted soybeans at a proverbial Oni, a devil or demonic figure. More generally, it symbolizes throwing out evil and bad luck. 

In households with families, children might be encouraged to throw the beans at an adult with an oni mask while crying the chant, "oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!" (鬼は外,福は内) meaning out with the devil out and in with good luck! 

At famous temples such as Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo, or Naritasan in near Narita Airport in Chiba, famous personalities participate. You might find sumo wrestlers or kabuki actors joining the fray by throwing sacks of soybeans at the crowd of spectators. 

This year, at the 2023 Fuchu City bean ceremony at Okunitama Shrine, people dressed as local mascots joined the bean-throwing fun. 


In general, with all bean-pelting traditions, it's customary that participants should then eat as many roasted soybeans as the number corresponding to their age. 


Author: Arielle Busetto


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