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    Posted February 6, 2014 by

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    Setsubun at the Heian Shrine in Kyoto!


    Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. The name literally means "seasonal division", but usually the term refers to the Spring Setsubun, properly called Risshun (立春) celebrated yearly on February 3 as part of the Spring Festival. In its association with the Lunar New Year, Spring Setsubun can be and was previously thought of as a sort of New Year's Eve, and so was accompanied by a special ritual to cleanse away all the evil of the former year and drive away disease-bringing evil spirits for the year to come. This special ritual is called mamemaki (豆撒き) (literally "bean throwing"). Setsubun has its origins in tsuina (追儺), a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the eighth century.

    Today in Japan, the most commonly performed setsubun ritual is the throwing of roasted beans around one's house and at temples and shrines across the country. When throwing the beans, you are supposed to shout "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out, happiness in"). Afterwards you should pick up and eat the number of beans, which corresponds to your age.

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