Most Japanese children have had the experience of throwing beans at one of their parents clad in the costume of a demon ("oni") on the day of “setsubun,” Feb 3.
"Setsubun no Hi" refers to the day before the spring season commences, according to the Japanese lunar calendar. It is believed that the spirit world comes closest to our world on this day, and therefore, the bean-throwing ("mamemaki") has become an annual tradition in order to drive evil out of the house.
In most Japanese households with small kids, usually one of the parents gets dressed up as a demon by wearing a scary-looking mask. Their children throw roasted soybeans at them, chanting “Oni wa soto!Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out! Good fortune in!).” Afterwards, the children eat the number of beans equivalent to their age plus one.
This household tradition of "mamemaki" has also become a public community event at various shrines throughout Japan. At popular temples such as Zojoji temple and Sensoji temple in Tokyo, some TV and sports celebrities are invited to throw beans, candy and wrapped gifts into the crowd.
Another famous tradition of "setsubun" is called “makizushi" (rolled sushi). It is important to make sure that you face the lucky direction of the year, which is north-northwest in 2017, and that you maintain complete silence until you eat the entire "makizushi."© Japan Today