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Sakura & Ichiro

Hashimoto Miki

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February 3 (sometimes February 2 or 4) is known as Setsubun. The word setsubun originally referred to the days marking the shift from one season to the next, but the spring setsubun is especially celebrated as the start of a new year. On Setsubun, people throw roasted soybeans outside to drive out the negative vibes that are said to emerge at seasonal turning points. It's said that you will stay healthy during the coming year if, after the bean throwing, you eat the same number of beans as your age. (In the traditional system, a person's age is the number of calendar years that have passed since they were born, including the year of birth.)

Another Setsubun custom that has become popular in recent years is eating a big roll of sushi known as eho-maki in the evening while facing the direction in which the toshigami (the deity of the year's harvest) is said to reside and making a silent wish. The tradition is said to have begun in Osaka, and nowadays many supermarkets sell these sushi rolls on the day of Setsubun.