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Setsubun Is Right Around the Corner

Posted By on Jan 29, 2014

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On February 3, Japan will celebrate Setsubun, a traditional holiday. Setsubun marks the beginning of spring. During the festivities, children throw beans at a “demon” (usually a man in costume) while chanting “Oni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi!” which means “Demons out, Luck in!” This ritual, called “mamemaki” or “bean throwing” signifies driving away evil in all of its forms from disease to spirits.

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In Tokyo, a popular location for Setsubun events is Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. Crowds will gather at noon and 2PM on February 3 to participate and throw beans. It is not just for children. Nearly one hundred thousand people are expected to attend the celebration every year. Following the bean throwing, there will be a performance for long life and happiness that is danced by the Seven Deities of Good Fortune.

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Throughout the city, seasonal goods can be found for purchase. Beans – cracked and dry for a tasty snack – are sold with Setsubun décor. From convenience stores to specialty shops, Setsubun lurks in every corner. While dressing up as a demon and receiving a faceful of beans is not a recommended way to enjoy the holiday, participating in an event as a spectator or bean thrower will make for a memorable experience.

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On the other side of Japan, in Kansai, people eat a large roll of makizushi called eho-maki. It’s eaten on Setsubun in silence while facing the year’s lucky direction which depends on the year’s zodiac sign.

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It is said that if one eats as many beans as one’s age in years, the year will be a healthy one. What are you waiting for? Go eat some beans for Setsubun!

[post by Nadia]

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