Setsubun in Japan 2021

Today is February 2, 2021, which happens to be Setsubun (節分)! Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of spring in the old calendar in Japan. It is an ancient tradition of driving away demons and welcoming the New Year (Lunar New Year) by throwing beans at demons that try to enter your house.

The main event of Setsubun is mamemaki (bean scattering) in which you will have a family member dress up as the oni (demon or ogre) and shout “Devils out! Fortune in!” (Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内!)) at them while throwing roasted soybeans (known as fukumame (fortune beans)) to shoo the oni away from your house while keeping the fortune inside.

It is also customary to eat the roasted soybeans, one for each year of one’s life. Some people in Japan eat soybeans totaling to their age + 1 extra soybean for good luck.

I’m very fond of Japanese culture and love being able to take part in it at any given opportunity. I love being able to enjoy ehoumaki each year which also takes place on the same day Setsubun. You are able to purchase ehoumaki from almost any supermarket in Japan on the day of Setsubun. Even Costco Japan sells them.

Ehoumaki is a lucky direction roll that is composed of seven ingredients considered to be lucky. People usually eat the ehoumaki while facing the lucky direction of that year. This year the lucky direction is South-Southeast.

While eating the ehoumaki and facing the lucky direction of the year, you can not speak and have to quietly eat the whole thing while wishing for prosperity and health inside your head. Make sure to be careful while eating.

During the Setsubun season, you can find confectionery goods shaped like ehoumaki. At a local supermarket, I was able to find a themed roll cake that has an oni on the packaging.