Setsubun: The Origin and Tradition in Japanese February

Setsubun. It is a festival in early February that Japanese people scatter soybeans. (Are you Chinese or Korean? It is written “節分”.)

Although it is a traditional event, it is not solid at all. It’s fun.

Originally, Setsubun is the day before the first day of spring in the Lunar calendar (3rd of February in the Solar Calendar, in 2014). People invite happiness and good luck, eject demons and bad luck by scattering soybeans around houses etc, before spring.

Many big temples and shrines hold big events to scatter soybeans. Setsubun Festival at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is very famous.

Setsubun Festival at Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

In families, preschools, old people’s communities and so on, people do soybean-scattering. Funny people (dad in family in many cases) act the role of demon, wearing a cheap mask and kids throw soybeans at them. It’s really funny and I think that’s the reason why Setsubun didn’t become a stale, boring, stiff event hated by people.

Next day, pigeons gather in streets to eat scattered soybeans.

And there is a joke about it among boys who hate Valentine’s Day. (Why do they hate Valentine’s Day? Visit my previous post. )

“I don’t remember well… Is there any event in February?”
“Yes, there is! It’s Setsubun.”

Thanks for reading!


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