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  • 執筆者の写真April Dykes

Learn about Setsubun- Bean Throwing Festival

With spring soon approaching, it’s time to get your beans and get ready for setsubun.  ‘What exactly is setsubun, and why do you need beans?’ may be something that you’re asking right now. Setsubun means seasonal division and is celebrated the day before the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.  That will fall on February 3rd this year.  The purpose behind this holiday is to drive away the negative and let the positive in.  That still doesn’t explain the beans, though.  So, let’s dig a little deeper. 

There is a ritual called mamemaki, which means bean throwing.  During Mame maki, roasted soybeans are thrown out the front door while people shout, "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" which means "Devils out! Fortune in!".  While the beans can simply be thrown out the front door, some families will have someone dress up as an oni, a demon, and they will throw beans at the devil.  After the devil flees, you have to eat as many beans as your age to have good luck and good health.  Be sure not to eat the beans that were thrown at the oni

Depending on your region, it is also customary to silently eat ehomaki, a thick, uncut sushi roll, while facing that year’s lucky direction, which is determined by the Chinese zodiac.  The lucky direction for 2024 is south south-east. Ehomaki (恵方巻), which is made up of the kanji for 恵 (favored, blessed), 方 (direction), and 巻 (roll), is a thick sushi roll containing a variety of toppings packed in and is eaten on the evening of setsubun, which marks the last day of winter. 

The most important thing about ehomaki is the unique way in which you eat it.

1. Never cut off the edges of ehomaki, or you may cut off your fortune! It is customary to eat it whole.

2. When eating your ehomaki, face in the direction of the deity Toshitokujin, and don't look away!

3. Eat in silence! It is believed that speaking while eating could let your luck escape. For the best luck, eat in complete silence until you are done.

Keep the three guidelines above in mind, and enjoy your ehomaki!






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