Chase Away Demons With Setsubun

Hokusai_Setsubun_no_Oni

Every year on the day before Spring according to the Lunar calandar, either February 3rd or 4th, is the Japanese celebration of Setsubun (節分). Setsubun is all about ridding yourself of evil and bringing in good luck. This year’s Setsubun is today, February 3rd!

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The main tradition for Setsubun is to throw roasted soybeans, called mame-maki (豆まき). This tradition is to scare demons away. In fact, most households will have a parent wear an oni (鬼) mask in order to look like a demon; it’s not uncommon to see children chasing around an adult in a demon mask with a masu (ます), a wooden cup, filled to the brim with roasted soybeans while yelling “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (「鬼は外!福は内」) or “Demon out! Happiness in!” in English.

These roasted soybeans aren’t just for throwing, however; they’re sweet and crunchy and whatever isn’t thrown is eaten. The tradition is to eat your age in beans plus one, but you won’t be chased by an oni if you exceed the limit.

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Another setsubun tradition is to eat whole makizushi (巻きずし), called ehomaki (恵方巻). In order to follow the tradition properly, everyone must finish the complete roll in complete silence while facing eho (恵方), or an auspicious direction; for 2016, that direction is south-south-east.

 

There’s still time to have your own celebration for Setsubun! Stop by Asahi to pick up a pack of fukumame roasted soybeans (or grab some beans to make your own!) and ingredients for ehomaki to chase the demons away and welcome happiness in.

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