The day before spring arrives is marked throughout Japan by Setsubun, which translates as “seasonal division”. This festival originated as a time to cleanse from the previous year and drive away evil spirits for the year ahead.
A highlight of the festival is a ritual known as mamemaki or “bean scattering” when roasted soybeans are thrown out the door of a house or temple while say-ing “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” ("Demons out! Luck in!”) If you want to par-ticipate in this purification practice, head to Sensoji (Asakusa), Zojoji (Tokyo) or Naritasan Shinshoji (Chiba).
Setsubun is also marked by the eating of Ehomaki sushi rolls, which are sold at convenience and department stores across the country. These long sushi rolls are filled with seven different ingredients to represent the seven gods of happiness (Shichifukujin) and should be eaten facing the year’s lucky direction.