Japanese Language Blog

The Bean-Throwing Festival Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Culture

Have you heard of Setsubun Festival in Japan? People in Japan celebrate what they call, the Bean-Throwing Festival, Setsubun(せつぶん、節分) on February 3rd every year. Setsubun is rather a Spring festival since this is done the day before the first day of Spring. It is not a national holiday; however, people never forget to celebrate this day since this is a special day to cleanse the evil spirits and bring in good luck and health into a new year.

On the day of Setsubun, Japanese people enjoy Mame maki(まめまき、豆まき)which literally means bean throwing. (まめ means “beans”, and まき means “throwing” in Japanese.) The beans used are roasted soy beans, and they are called “Fuku Mame(ふくまめ、福豆)”. People throw fuku-mame’s out of the door or at the person who is wearing ogre mask, which is usually the dad in the house. (Evil spirits are represented by ogres or demons.)

The important part here is that, when you throw the beans, you have to shout “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi! (おにはそと、ふくはうち、鬼は外、福は内) This means, “demons(bad luck) out, lucks in”. It is said that when you throw beans at ogres or demons, it is driving the evil spirits away and bringing in good luck, health, and happiness for the coming year into your house. People also believe that if you eat the beans you used for Setsubun for the amount equal to 1+your age, you will go through another year without worries and bad lucks.

You can enjoy this at home or also attend more formal Setsubun festival at most of the Shinto shrines and temples throughout Japan. If you are interested in the Setsubun festival at the temple, take a look at the video below. Each shrine or temple has their own way of conducting the Setsubun festival, but this is one of them, and you can get an idea on how it looks like.

If you would like to try this at your own home, download the Ogre mask from here and enjoy!

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About the Author: keiko

Born and raised in Japan. She currently lives in U.S. with her husband and two kids.