This post was originally published on February 3, 2008. We’re pulling it out of the archives for you to enjoy.   Satsubun, while not a national holiday, is always celebrated on February 3rd. This gives you some time to go buy some edamame, an ogre mask, and get to throwing!

You may also want to take a look at THIS POST by Staci from 2009 which talks more about this holiday.

photo credit: Mike Licht


At my Japanese Kumon class this week, I picked up the monthly newsletter and discovered that a lot of my favorite edamame is going to be thrown to the birds tonight.  I was bummed for the cute, green, full-of-protein-and-goodness little guys, but when I read more it sounds like such a fun tradition.

Setsubun signifies the end of winter and beginning of spring.  It falls on February 3, which is the day before the first day of spring (according to the Japanese lunar calendar).  The purifying tradition for this evening (called Mamekaki) is for the head of the household to throw soybeans out the door OR at someone dressed as an demon or ogre (where did I put that Shrek costume?) and yell, “Oni Wa Soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” (“Out with the ogre!  In with the happiness!”).

Then to pray for good health for the year, everyone eats the same number of soy beans as your age, plus one for good luck.  WOOHOO!  An advantage to getting old!

I guess the shrines/temples really get into it and you can go and scatter silver & gold wrapped soybeans around…  sounds like a heck of a way to spend tonight!  I just checked and I’ve got edamame in the freezer — so if you come by my house you might hear some yellin’.

More info here courtesy of Wikipedia — check out what the people from Aizuwakamatsu yell!


  1. So, just did this (the yell & throw) and made hubby get the video camera. Was SO cute hearing my 2 year old try to get that mouthful of words out. But he LOVED the throwing! 🙂 Wonder what the neighbors will think of the “litter” on the grass…

  2. Thanks for this, Joelle!

    Eli came home from school with the ogre mask and very excitedly told me about how he had thrown “peanut-corn” at the “monster”. So that’s what he got out of it!

    And three cheers for the end of winter! I know we are spoiled here with sun and light but MAN today was cold!

    So, what gives about Kumon? Tell us more!