Setsubun, or “the parting of the seasons,” is a festival traditionally held on February 3rd to signify the passing of winter and the coming of spring. Setsubun is celebrated in many different ways throughout Japan, but one of the most ubiquitous features of the festival is a rite known as mamemaki where participants scatter roasted beans around their houses. The beans are believed to protect against evil spirits, and the words “fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto” (“fortune in and demons out”) are spoken during the ceremony. Afterwards, family members eat a number of the beans equivalent to their age, to bring health.
Setsubun and mamemaki ceremonies can be observed at major shrines and temples throughout Japan, where celebrities and renowned public figures often toss beans at enthusiastic crowds. Celebrated since medieval times, Setsubun is a lively event and a chance to experience a living Japanese tradition.