Setsubun was originally a word meaning the change of seasons and was used to mean the day before each season, spring, summer, autumn and winter, started on the calendar. Among these days, February 4th every year meant the beginning of the year in the old calendar as well as the beginning of spring, and therefore the day preceding this day came to be known as Setsubun. Now all the Setsubun events are held on February 3rd (4th in some years).
In ancient times, it was believed that the change in seasons could bring in bad luck. In order to expel evil spirits and bring in luck, “bean throwing” has been held. You will be able to see people at home or in local communities throwing roasted soybeans at a person disguised as an ogre while chanting, “Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto” (meaning, In with Fortune! Out with Evil!) Tradition has it that if you eat the number of soy beans of your age or your age +1 after the bean throwing, the evil spirits of the year will be expelled and you will not get sick.
In addition, some large shrines and temples invite celebrities and athletes and distribute roasted soy beans to the public who gather there. In the area around Tokyo, the events held at Senso-ji Temple and Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple in Tokyo and Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Chiba Prefecture are famous, attracting large crowds every year.
Moreover, many shrines and temples in Kansai region hold their own unique events. In Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, maiko or apprentice geisha throw roasted soy beans. In Rozanji Temple and Yoshida Shrine in Kyoto and Kohfukuji Temple in Nara Prefecture, a dance to drive angry ogres away is performed, an event worth seeing even if you do not understand the language. There should be a shrine or a temple that holds a Setsubun event in any town you visit. Please join in and experience this interesting event.
Address: 2-3-1 Asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo
Access: 5 min walk from Asakusa Station, all the lines
Takao-san Yakuo-in Temple
Address: 2177 Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo
Access: Take a cable car from Takao-Yamaguchi Station of Keio Line to Takao-san Station and walk 20 min.
Naritasan Shinshoji Temple
Address: 1 Narita, Narita City, Chiba
Access: 10 min walk from Narita Station, all the lines
Address: 625 Gion-cho north sides, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: A short walk from “Gion” bus stop of the city municipal bus
Address: 397 Kitanobe-machi, Hirokoji-dori-agaru, Teramachi-dori, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 5 min walk from “Furitsu Idai Byoin Mae” bus stop of the city municipal bus
Address: 30 Yoshida-Kagura-Oka-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto
Access: 5 min walk from “Kyodai Seimon Mae” bus stop of the city municipal bus
Address: 48 Noborioji-cho, Nara City, Nara
Access: A short walk from “Kencho Mae” bus stop of Nara Kotsu Bus (City Loop Line, Outer Loop)