Setsubun 節分(せつぶん)

28 Jan

February 3rd of next week is a Japanese holiday called “Setsubun”. Setsubun celebrates the end of winter and welcomes spring. It is a fun holiday to celebrate, especially if you have children. Here are some activities you can do:

1) On the night of Setsubun, it is tradition to throw beans and yell “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” meaning “Ogres out! Fortune/Good Luck In!”(read more here). Traditionally, roasted soy beans are thrown, but I read peanuts can be used as well. One person can dress up like an ogre and others can throw beans at him/her. You can make your own ogre mask here (from Glico), here (Canon creative park) or here ( In our Japanese playgroup, we throw balls/beans at ogres made out of boxes. The kids love it!

2) You can make origami Oni and Fuku here, from origami-club.

3) Another tradition that I just learned about, is to eat makizushi (rolled sushi):

“It is customary now to eat uncut makizushi called Eho-Maki (恵方巻) (lit. “lucky direction roll”) in silence on Setsubun while facing the yearly lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year.”- from









4) Read more about Setsubun:

In English, here (wikipedia).

In Japanese, here (wikipedia) and here (kidsnet).

5) I thought this Sasae-san episode was very informative about Setsubun. (No.5981「タラちゃん鬼は外」)

(What is Sazae-san?)

6) In our playgroup, we decorated paper cups with stickers, pen, and yarn to make Oni (they became our bean-holders):

Easy-peasy for the toddler crowd. Any other fun ideas?

Next year, I want to make this oni game.

See my post about ONI for even more resources!

8 Responses to “Setsubun 節分(せつぶん)”

  1. kmaruyam February 4, 2012 at 11:27 PM #

    We started doing Setsubun activities with the kids a couple years ago and have had great fun with it! Our Wakayama cousins sent us pictures last year of their Setsubun (complete with the ehou-maki and facing the northwest and the sardine heads outside the door to ward off oni) so we’ve added on some more activities to our own Setsubun. (Well, not the sardines!) Had a great time this evening with it and with our mame! Yum! Happy Setsubun! 🙂

    • Hiragana Mama February 5, 2012 at 7:13 AM #

      Glad you had fun! Setsubun is a great family tradition 🙂


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