Very special Setsubun 2021!

Japanese traditional culture

Hello! I’m Yuko. It’s about Setsubun today!

Japanese culture event: Setsubun

What is Setsubun?

In Japan, there is an event called “Setsubun(せつぶん)” on February 3rd every year.

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of each season (spring, summer, autumn, winter) and it means “to separate the seasons”.

There are 24 seasons and I wrote an article about this in a previous column, so please refer to it.

Since the Edo period, it often refers to the day before the beginning of spring (around February 4th every year). So nowadays, for Japanese setsubun is to celebrate the coming of spring.

While saying “Oni ha soto(Oni is outside), Fuku ha uchi(Fuku is inside)”, we sprinkle Fortune beans (roasted soybeans) to prevent the evil and eat beans as many as the age (or one more). There are also areas where you can put a decoration called “Hiiragi iwashi(sardine and holly charm)”to prevent evil.

Hiiragi iwashi

How to find out the day

In most years, the day before the beginning of spring (February 4th), the Setsubun, is February 3rd, but this year is different.

If you try to operate the system regularly by applying the 24 solar terms to the year, an error will appear little by little in the year and a deviation will occur.

It is necessary to adjust the deviation, and February 3rd will be the beginning of spring in 2021.

Therefore, Setsubun is February 2nd this year!

This is the first time in 124 years since February 2, 1897, and it is a very rare year.

By the way, about 37 years ago(in 1984), the beginning of spring was February 5th and the setsubun was February 4th. It was also very rare.

What to do on Setsubun?

At Setsubun, we decorate beans and hiiragi. And we throw a lot of roasted soybeans!! Throwing the soybeans means getting rid of bad luck and welcoming good luck.

We go around all the doors and windows that connect the inside and outside of the house. Then, throw the beans outward while saying “Oni wa soto(Demon is out)”, and throw the beans inside the house while saying “Fuku wa uchi(Luck is inside)”.

It’s very fun for children! It’s hard to clean up beans at home though!

During the year-end cleaning in 2021, beans from Setsubun will come out from behind the TV! Sometimes it happens. It seems better (for us) to go outside for throwing the soybeans if possible.

Also, at the time of Setsubun, we eat “Ehomaki(rolled sushi)”.

Lucky direction

In Setsubun, there is a custom of turning to Eho(good luck direction) and eating ehomaki(rolled sushi)silently without cutting the rolls.

The direction of Setsubun(Eho) changes every year.

Eho refers to the direction in which there is a God called Totokujin who protects the year, and there are only four directions: “east-northeast,” “west-southwest,” “south-southeast,” and “north-northwest.”
This year, 2021’s direction is “south-southeast”.

Ehomaki is also sold online, at supermarkets, and at convenience stores, so you can buy it, or try your best to make it at home.

When you make it at home, you need to “roll” it. If you make Ehomaki using Makisu, you can feel like a sushi chef!


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