Celebrities and shrine priests throw beans at Minatogawa Shrine in Kobe City on Saturday, while shouting "devils out, fortune in." Beans are thrown as part of Setsubun festivities held to ward off evil spirits said to rear their heads during changes in season. Photo: NATHAN HILL

Authorities warn parents of Setsubun soybean choking risks for children


Authorities are warning parents to take extra care with children eating soybeans during Saturday's Setsubun festival.

Setsubun marks the day before the beginning of spring, according to the lunar calendar. The festival involves a ritual called mamemaki, traditionally intended to drive away the evil and disease of the former year. The ritual involves throwing roasted soybeans around a property or place of work.



The soybeans, called "fortune beans" or fuku mame, are thrown either at a doorway or at a member of the family wearing an oni (demon or ogre) mask, while the other family members shout Oniwa soto! Fukuwa uchi ("Demons out! Good luck in!"

It is then customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life, and in some areas, one for each year of one's life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.

The Consumer Affairs Agency and the National Center for Child Health and Development on Friday issued a caution to parents to be careful about letting young children swallow the soybeans. In recent years, there have been cases of children aged between nine months and four years old being taken to hospitals for treatment after choking on the beans, health authorities say.

Health officials say it is possible for a soybean to lodge in a child's bronchial tract for one or two days before being discovered.

On Saturday, Setsubun festivals were held at various temples across Japan, with celebrities in attendance.

Sumo grand champions Kisenosato and Hakuho tossed beans into the crowd at Naritasan Shinshoji Temple in Narita, Chiba Prefecture. At a temple in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, actresses Wakana Aoi and Eri Tokunaga took part in the proceedings.

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After the ojichantachi daying for eating mochi now it happens even with children eating soybeans!! For a gaijin living in Japan I think this is something crazy to even think about but this is Japan! Shoganai!

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

"Mochi" in January and "soybeans" in February. We have to develop some kind of simple medical gadget which remove obstacles from the throats and all the households in Japan are recommended to be equipped with them.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"soybean choking risks for children..."

Or poking an eye out.... omg.


2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Kisenosato and Hakuho tossed beans into the crowd."  After their poor showing in the last Basho, the people should have thrown the beans back!  lol!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I will go ballistic if some retarded parent allows this to happen after annual news of overconfident elderly.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Shopenhauer, we have the gadget you are seeking. It's called a brain. Engage it.

What would be the problem with grinding the beans to powder for the little ones? When they get to kindergarten they can 'graduate' to the whole bean. Roasted soybeans for children at 9 months? But for the many who routinely ride one, two and sometimes three up without helmets on bicycles, I imagine that flirting with risk is no big deal. 'Tis but once a year.

At the same time escalators and announcements natter incessantly to the point that pretty much everyone tunes out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And about time!! This has been a serious problem for generations! a. k. a. Oh, FFS!! And next comes a warning about the possible risks of twisted ankles in genkans...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Another non-issue. Government bureaucrats finding ways to make themselves relevant.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

you got to age limit these things. Kids haven't finished growing yet!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, the Japanese government is compelled to warn citizens about choking to death on a common food item? Do hundreds or thousands of children choke to death every year? Aren’t there many more such dangerous foods for big brother to warn the naive and hapless masses about?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can go try to jest like that before ignorant parents who might lose a child to this absolutely stupid incident if they do not heed this warning. The state is trying to prevent their citizens from dying and you do, what, laugh at it? Show some basic human decency on an anonymous website...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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