What is Setsubun?

Setsubun (節分)literally means "seasonal division" and is a festival held on the day before the beginning of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar. Rituals are held on this day to drive away evil spirits and welcome good fortune.
Rituals vary throughout Japan, but one of the more common and well-known rituals is mamemaki (豆撒き, "bean throwing"). People throw roasted soybeans, or fukumame (福豆, "fortune beans"), out from the front door of their homes or shrines while shouting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" (鬼は外!福は内!, "Devils out! Fortune in!"). Often times, a family member will wear an oni (鬼, "demon or ogre") mask, acting as the devil while the rest of the family throw the beans. Afterwards, each individual will eat the number of beans that corresponds with their age.

Click here to create your own oni mask!

Watch our video where consulate staff protect the consulate from an oni attack!

Another well-known ritual (originally from the Kansai Region) is the eating of the eho-maki (恵方巻き, "lucky direction sushi roll"). The ritual consists of eating the entire eho-maki without speaking while facing that year's lucky direction, determined by the Chinese zodiac.