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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Setsubun
"Seasonal Division." Originally, the term referred to the day prior to the first day of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Nowadays, however, it refers only to the day before spring. The old lunar calendar was not related to the earth's orbit around the sun and so did not correspond with the actual change of the seasons. In order to compensate for this, the celestial longitude was divided into 24 sections, aligned with the seasons, and called the nijūshi-sekki ("twenty-four seasonal divisions"). Four of these marked the day before the change of the season: risshun, rikka, risshū, and rittō. The prominence of risshun (it was considered the first of the seasonal divisions) led to its exclusive celebration. According to the solar calendar, setsbun falls on February 3 or 4. Setsubun rituals include tsuina and mame-maki (bean-scattering), also known as mame-uchi. Tsuina, also referred to by other names like "oniyarai," is an exorcism rite in which participants address words to kami (saimon) then, armed with peach bow-and-arrows and clubs, chase away figures dressed in demon masks in order to drive out the pestilence and other disasters the were believed to carry. Introduced from Tang China, tsuina was originally held on the eve of the New Year. Mame-maki, the custom of scattering roasted beans to expel evil spirits, seems to have begun in the Muromachi Period (1392-1573). Although members of the court and upper classes maintained a distinction between tsuina at the end of the year and bean-throwing at setsubun, commoners in many locations often blended the two customs. There was also a custom known as yaikagashi wherein the heads of sardines were stuck on holly branches and hung over doorways to drive out the demons. At shrines, setsubun events are called setsubunsai and usually either the tsuina rite or the bean-throwing rite is conducted, but specific practices vary widely.
Seealso Nijūshi sekki

— Endō Jun
Shrine priests and attendants throw little sacks filled with beans at Minatogawa Jinja during Setsubun.

Hyōgo prefecture, 2006

©Ōsawa Kōji

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