Setsubun, just before spring

This is the season when you find packs of beans with paper masks of funny goblins at supermarkets. Those are for Setsubun (“節分”) festival.

Setsubun is the day before the beginning of spring in the Japanese old lunar calendar, the name of which literally means “the day between seasons”. This year it falls on February 3rd.
On Setsubun day, people throw beans out of their houses, saying “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Devils out! Good luck in!)” to expel evil spirits. At home, Fathers put masks playing an Oni (“鬼”, devils) and children throw beans.
One more event of this day is to eat sushi-rolls. Sushi-rolls for Setsubun are big, thick, and served uncut. Oddly enough, you have to eat it silently, facing to the direction designated as lucky one for the year. (Imagine that all your family are eating big sushi-rolls without a word facing the same direction!) The lucky direction of this year is south-southeast, and you can buy Setsubun sushi-rolls at convenience stores, supermarkets and take-away sushi shops. So why don’t you buy one and try this Japanese tradition?


In Tokyo, Zojo-ji (“増上寺”) and Ikegami-honmon-ji (“池上本門寺”) are very popular for the Setsubun events and collect thousands of people. Many local temples and shrines will also hold some small events. If you join our cycling tour tomorrow, you may come across one!

Published by tokyocycling

Tokyo Great Cycling Tour started in 2006, showing around the city on the saddle by local guides. Offering seven different courses.

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1 Comment

  1. I find the tradition of setsubun a bit funny. I mean, the demons afraid of soy beans are odd enough, but the sushi rolls and the way you have to eat them is a bit weird haha.

    Thick, big, and uncut. That made me laugh hahaha

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