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February 3rd is Setsubun festival in Japan, celebrated a day before the start of Spring (in the Japanese lunar calendar).

On Setsubun (which literally means “seasonal division”), it is custom in Japan to throw soya beans to wish for good luck and get rid of bad luck and evil spirits. When throwing the beans, it is customary to shout “Oni-wa Soto, Fuku-wa Uchi!”, meaning “Evil spirits go away, good luck comes in!”.

Another custom on this day is to face in the direction of good luck (which changes every year) and eat “futomaki”, a fat nori-maki sushi roll (a whole roll). You can imagine how funny that would look! This year, the direction is North-North-West (and some suggest slightly to the right).

Some people also make or eat a sardine dish. There is a belief that the stinky smell and smoke from sardines when cooked in an open fire will help get rid of evil spirits.

Read more about the Setsubun festival here.

We wish Happy Setsubun to all our Japanese friends and family!


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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