Setsubun | Throw dry beans at demons to keep them away!

Oni-wa-soto! Fuku-wa-uchi!   (Devils Out! Fortune In!”)

In Japan there is an event on February 3 each year called “Setsubun”.
Kids throw dried soy beans to shoo away demons while shouting, “Oni-wa-soto! Fuku-wa-uchi!.”
In many families, the father dresses up as an ogre and chases family members, who in turn throw the beans at him. It is a very fun event.

Setsubun is often referred to as the changing of the seasons.
In Japan, the start of spring is accepted as February 4, and thus February 3 was deemed the day of Setsubun.
There once was a time when Feb 4 marked the beginning of the new year and February 3, New Years Eve!
Therefore, Setsubun is a day to celebrate new beginnings and ward away misfortune and an evil for the new year.

Then why do people throw beans?

There are fables that tell of a time, long ago, when people threw dried beans at the eyes of ogres who plagued villages, to keep them away.
In addition, the Japanese believe that rice and soy beans contain powers to ward away evil.
The custom of throwing dried beans has continued since the Muromachi era!

The official rules of Setsubun …
① Keep the beans as an offering to the Shinto altar until the day of Setsubun.
② On the evening of February 3, open a window and throw the dried beans outside.
③ The first beans should be thrown by the head of the household or a person whose Chinese zodiac sign falls on the current year.
④ Yell “Oni-wa-soto! Fuku-wa-uchi!”
⑤ Close a window as soon as the ogre is sent away.
⑥ Eat as many beans as your age.
Now you’ve warded away evil!

It is said that if you eat the same number of beans as your age, you will be healthy for the rest of the year.
The beans need to be dry roasted soy beans.
Raw beans are considered unlucky as they sprout.

However, it isn’t necessary to follow the rules too closely.
Most families make up their own set of rules to enjoy the event.
Sample rules include those such as, the father plays the role of the ogre, only kids can throw beans, swap out soy beans with peanuts.
The rules are flexible as long as the family is having fun and keeps the spirit of warding away evil and beckoning fortune.
There are other regional traditions on this holiday, such as placing a head of a sardine on a holly branch and displaying it on the door, or eating a long roll of sushi (Ehomaki) without emitting a word.
There are a lot of regional customs and newer ones too!

There are many regions that host Setsubun events. Bean throwing events at a Shinto shrine or temple, invite a sumo wrestler, host an event featuring multiple ogres.
It might be fun to participate in a regional Setsubun event.

Photo by Tagemiru News!!、prologue-hd、mizkan、imap

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