Japan’s devilishly fun festival to celebrate the start of spring!
It may not feel like we’re out of the throws of winter just yet in the UK, but today, across Japan, you’ll find throngs of people celebrating the start of Spring. The annual Setsubun festival, which roughly translates to “seasonal division” falls on 2nd February this year. Based on the traditional lunar calendar, it signifies the shift in seasons. It also signifies a shift in fortunes, where folk dispel the evil spirits and bad energy from the biting cold winter and welcome in a more fortunate spring.
‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’ (Devil out! Fortune in!), they all shout, whilst throwing roasted soybeans outside their front door to ward off evil spirits – in Japanese folklore, beans are symbols of good luck. This bean throwing tradition is called mamemaki, or “scattering of beans”, and whilst the manner of their ‘mamemaki’ may vary from house to house, the actions are taken to symbolize the banishing of evil spirits and misfortune from their home.
And to increase their chances of good luck for the coming year, some families also eat one roasted soybean for each year of their life.
Another food that plays a major role in Setsubun is the ehomaki, or “lucky direction sushi roll.”
Ehomaki is a long sushi roll filled with seven different ingredients to represent the seven gods of happiness (Shichifukujin). This famous sushi roll then needs to be consumed, in silence, whilst facing this year’s lucky direction – which happens to be south-south-east for 2021, according to the lunar calendar.
Well, we think this year we all need as much luck as we can get, so the team at KIBOU are getting right behind this tradition and are happy to chant ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!’, as we ditch winter for some spring fortune (and get our teeth stuck into some freshly prepared ehomaki!).