Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Tops Tuesdays: Setsubun

Setsubun Eho-maki, Mame-maki and Grilled Sardine 恵方巻き
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Setsubun falls on the day before the first day of spring in Japan. This year, Setsubun occurred on February 3rd. The people of Japan usually eat dried soy beans and try to eat the same number of beans as their age. This makes it difficult for the elderly members of the community to keep up with the Setsubun tradition. Eating soy beans is said to attract health and happiness to the lives of the consumer over the course of the following year. The soy beans also serve another purpose, because as it turns out, local demons called "oni" are terrified of soy beans. Who'd have thought? Children are encouraged to pelt someone dressed in an oni costume with soy beans while shouting, "Demons out! Luck in!" to scare demons away from the house. The idea is to force bad luck out, and encourage good luck into the home. Entrance-ways are sometimes decorated with sardines and holly to prevent evil spirits from entering the dwelling. 

Additionally, it is tradition to eat a makizushi (a giant sushi roll) in silence while facing the year's lucky direction as determined by the zodiac (2013 is the year of the snake) on this day. You may have noticed an abundance of huge uncut makizushi rolls in the sushi section of many Japanese supermarkets last Sunday. Ginger sake is also customarily drunk on Setsubun. 

These days, the people of Japan usually visit a shrine on Setsubun where various sweets and treats are handed out to the visitors. Some shrine's invite celebrities and sumo wrestlers to visit on Setsubun and these events are usually televised nationally. 


  1. Happy Setsubun. I managed to eat a whole Ehomaki without talking, so it was quite the achievement. We visited a famous place in Kano, south of Gifu Station and it was a lot of fun. You can read about it on my blog.

    1. That's pretty impressive! I could only manage a half-size one and I forgot you weren't supposed to cut them up. ;^_^

  2. Nice post! My sensei told me about this too but I think your post explained it more thoroughly for me.

    By the way, I have my own blog which focuses on Asian culture and entertainment such as video games and I wonder if it is possible for you to view it and tell me what you think please: http://nynyonlinex.wordpress.com

    1. What a lovely compliment! I'll definitely check out your blog! :)


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