“Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!
“Demons out! Fortune in!”
If you are travelling to Japan in the first week of February, you are likely to hear this phrase being shouted at temples or even outside people’s homes. The yelling — accompanied by the throwing of roasted soybeans — is an integral part of setsubun, an annual festival that heralds the start of a new season. The day of setsubun (節分) in 2020 is on 3 February, the eve of risshun (立春) , the beginning of spring.
In the past, people believed that the changing of seasons could bring bad luck, which is why local communities devised a ceremony where they throw roasted soybeans at a person dressed as a demon while chanting, “Out with evil, in with good!” After successfully “banishing” the demons, Japanese families gather and eat the same number of beans as their age will bring about good fortune for the rest of the year.