A traditional event in Japan, Setsubun celebrates the end of winter and the onset of spring. Setsubun literally means ‘seasonal division’, but the term generally refers to the Spring Setsubun called Risshun, which is celebrated as a part of Haru Matsuri (the Spring  Festival).


Image Courtesy: Jose Cruz used under the Creative Commons Licence

People take part in a ritual called the Mamemaki, literally meaning ‘bean scattering’, to cleanse away all the evil of the previous year and expel all evils that might bring diseases in the year to come. The Japanese throw roasted soybeans (mame) around their houses and temples, and shout ‘Oni wa Soto Fuku wa Uti’, which translates to ‘Get out Ogre! Come in Happiness!’. In order to welcome happiness, prosperity and luck, each person picks up and eats the number of beans that amount to his/her age, after throwing them.

Besides the customary mamemaki ritual, strips of paper bearing excerpts of the Hannyashingyo Sutra are dropped, parades are hosted; and individuals visit places of worship and eat fortune sushi rolls (eho-maki).

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