February 3rd is the day of Setsubun. It is the day before the beginning of each season meaning ‘division of the season’. Out of all the Setsubun days, Risshun(立春the first day of spring) is the most special day. Setsubun signifies the ending of winter and the beginning of spring. It is believed that ‘oni'(a devil-like creature from Japanese folklore) come when the seasons change in Japan. There are many rituals to exercise these onis which differ in each region.
Throwing roasted soybeans was first practised back in the Heian period, to stop oni from attacking villages by throwing beans to their eyes. Now, people throw roasted soybeans both inside and outside of their homes to keep away the oni. When throwing beans, people say the phrase ‘out with the devil, in with the fortune'(鬼は外、福は内).
On the Setsubun day, it is becoming a custom to eat special sushi roll, Eho-maki(恵方巻). It is believed to be good luck when eaten on the Setsubun day. This custom began in the Kansai area and it has become a nationwide event in the ’90s. When eating Eho-maki, look in the year’s good luck direction which is the east-north-east direction this year.
If you go to the supermarkets and convenience stores, you will see roasted soybeans and paper made mask of oni and stores are taking a reservation for Eho-maki. If you are in Japan on the Setsubun day, try the Eho-maki which may bring you good luck!