Yhere is a day before the beginning of spring, which is known as “Setsubun” in Japan. The word “Setsubun” consists of two words, “Setsu”, which means season and “bun”, which means division. “Setsubun” means seasonal division. Unfortunately, this day is not a national holiday in Japan.
“Setsubun” is celebrated annually on February 3 as the part of Spring Festival. On that day, the Japanese people have a ritual event, which is called “Mamemaki”. The word “Mamemaki” consists of two words, “Mame”, which means beans, and “maki”, which means scatter. Japanese people believed that the purpose of this ritual is to chase away evil spirits at the beginning of spring season.
In the past, they believed that the smoke of burning woods and the noise of drums could chase away the evil spirits. Nowadays, they do throw roasted beans around their own houses and at shrines.
They are using roasted soybeans to be thrown, which are known as fortune beans in Japan. They usually throw those beans out to the door, or sometimes at a member of the family, who is wearing an Oni (demon) mask. While they are throwing the roasted soybeans, they also shout out “Demons Out! Luck In!” (“Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” in Japanese)
After you throw them, you must pick up and eat them .It is believed that if you do not eat them, it will bring you a bad luck.
This ritual is not only for chasing away the evil spirits or bad luck, misfortune, bad health, and etc., but also for bringing more luck in. This is very similar to some Western customs of throwing rice at newly married couples after wedding, to bring the happiness, and luck into the new family.