Japan has a tradition of celebrating each seasons milestones and one of those is “Setsubun,” where they scatter parched beans. In this article, we will introduce of one of Japan’s most important traditional occasion, “Setsubun.”

What is Setsubun?

Setsubun is originally said to be a seasonal milestone and is celebrated four times a year. And because it has been assumed that the new year starts from spring in the old times, Setsubun is celebrated before the day the official spring season begins, which is February 3rd. Ever since the late Edo period, this tradition has been celebrated at the same day.

History of the Parched Beans scattering

Parched Beans scattering, which is held in every Setsubun occasion was introduced from China. In the olden days of China, a ceremony of driving out evil spirits (Tsuina) was prospered and people chanted “Disperse the plague, Welcome the good fortune!. “The saying  “Welcome the good fortune,” became a court event in the Heian Period and was celebrated since then. During the Edo Period, “scattering parched beans” became a traditional part of celebrating this event to common people.

Why do they scatter Parched Beans?


In Japanese Kanji, the word “Mame(beans)” can be rewritten in Kanji with the same reading but different meaning and the meaning is ” an exterminator of bad spirits.” It is also important to throw the bad spirits friend beans and not raw ones. This is because it is believed that in raw beans, a sprout could grow which could lead to disasters and tragedy.

How many beans should you eat?

The beans used during the Setsubun is said to have a very good luck and fortune will come to those who eat it. The numbers of beans people should eat is “the number of their age plus one bean.” Only eating “the number of their age” is considerable. However, if people eat one more than their age, their luck in the next year will also be fortunate.

The Meaning of “Demons out,Fortune in”

While people are scattering beans, they chant “Demons out, Fortune in.” This chant, however, differs by region due to slangs but the meaning is similar. While they chant “Demons out,” they scatter the beans outside the home and does the opposite when chanting “Fortune in.”

People named “Watanabe” are exceptions?!

Why are people with surnames “Watanabe” are exceptions? This is because during the Heian Period, an army ruled by a leader named “Watanabe” was able to beat hundreds of devils acting violently, making the devils scared of the name. Because of this, it is said that people with this surname does not have to participate in this occasion.

Customs other than scattering Parched beans

Other than scattering beans, there are other ways to protect oneself against evil during this event. It is believed that devils dislike things that are pointy and smells nasty, and so people decorated their entrance with “Holly”, “Thorns”, “Smelly Sardines” and “Sardines with Holly Charms.” Depending on the region, some decorate with “Garlic” and some eat “Sardines.”


It definitely is an interesting event right? While each countries have different beliefs and ways to bring fortune to their lives, Setsubun is an event that anyone could try and anyone can enjoy! If you are in japan, why not try this tradition and maybe you could improve your luck?