Throwing Setsubun soybeans at the Devil for good luck and health
'Setsubun' literally means 'seasonal division', and happens right before the first day of Spring in the Japanese lunar calendar on 3rd February as a part of Haru-matsuri, Spring Festival. Rituals are performed to chase away evil spirits and bring in good luck at the start of Spring, praying for a healthy and illness-free year ahead.
Mame Maki Bean Throwing
This is probably the most fun part that we all join in, whether or not we understand the cultural meaning or not! 'Oni wa soto' is chanted while roasted soybeans are thrown at evil spirits to chase them away. At the same time, 'Fuku wa uchi' is chanted as soybeans are thrown inside the house to bring in good luck.
Usually a family member would wear an 'onimen' devil's mask to play the part of the evil spirit and endures a shower of thrown beans. This is where our mask comes in handy!
Play the role of Oni, evil spirit
Pop out the 4 circular holes. Tie a rubber band through each of the holes the ears and attach to your face. Hopefully you'll just about see through the eye holes while stumbling to run away from the bean throwing!
When all the beans have been thrown and the excitement is over, we eat as many roasted beans as our age, symbolising the ingestion of good luck. Don't worry if our packet doesn't include enough beans for the whole family. Although in modern days, the beans are the go-to setsubun grain, traditionally, rice, barley, millet, or other seeds were used. So if needed, you could improvise with an addition of other grains that are easy to get hold of (preferably unseasoned so they don't damage your upholstery and are easy to clean!)
Make your own Masu Box to put the soybeans in, tutorial further down the page!
Shichifuku Fukumaki 七福 福巻き
Fukumaki is also known as Ehomaki or Futomaki.
Maki, that is becoming increasingly popular, is a rolled sushi. Fuku means good luck, and ours includes seven ingredients for good fortune, hence Shichifuku, as shichi means seven.
Why is the Fukumaki not cut into eatable sizes?
We promise we're not just being lazy!
Traditionally the fukumaki is served whole, so as not to 'cut' good connections and good fortune. In some regions, it is believed that our wish will come true if we face the auspicious direction of the year, 2021's being south-south-east and eat the whole sushi without uttering a word. In some other areas, the sushi is eaten with closed eyes, or with a smile. Whatever you fancy, the spirit is to be in the moment and enjoy every mouthful with gratitude.
So what's with the Sardines?
There is a traditional Setsubun decoration involving a head of a grilled sardine and a twig of holly. The prickly leaves of the holly can pierce the eyes of the devil and the smell of sardines drives them away. So combining these two items that the devil dislikes makes this a powerful decoration to keep the evil spirits away.
The smell and smoke of Sardines
When the sardines are grilled, they give off an even stronger smell that will wade away the devils once and for all. Then the sardines are eaten to drive away evilness and maliciousness from inside our bodies!
Create your own Origami Masu box for your soybeans
These are surprisingly easy to make! We include a sheet of origami paper in So's Setsubun Feast so follow the video below to make your own just to get in the spirit!
So now you know all about keeping away evil spirits and starting the new lunar year with promise. What better way is there to celebrate than with So's Setsubun Feast set that come with all of the above including the Onimen Devil mask, and soybeans to throw around the house?