Setsubun Traditions and Contemporary Twists: Sake, Silence, and Savoring New Beginnings

Setsubun: Welcoming Spring with Traditional Festivities


Setsubun, meaning "seasonal division," marks the official start of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar. While not a national holiday, it is widely celebrated across Japan and holds special significance, especially for children. This year, Setsubun falls on Saturday, February 3rd, and communities will come together at shrines and temples for the annual festivities.


Bean-Throwing Ritual: Warding Off Evil Spirits


A prominent Setsubun tradition involves the throwing of roasted beans around homes, temples, and shrines. Accompanied by the chant "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Devils out, happiness in"), this ritual symbolically purifies spaces, driving away evil spirits that might bring misfortune and bad health. Following this purification, it is customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one's life, as a gesture of inviting luck and prosperity.


Ehomaki Tradition in Kansai: Silent Wishes Over Sushi Rolls


In the Kansai region, particularly Osaka, Setsubun is observed by consuming uncut makizushi known as ehomaki. This "lucky direction roll" is eaten in silence while facing the year's lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol. Traditionally, people eat the entire sushi roll uncut, in one continuous go, contemplating their wishes and finding a moment of tranquility amid the modern chaos.


Ehonomi: A Contemporary Setsubun Celebration for Adults


A modern twist to Setsubun celebrations is "ehonomi" or "lucky direction drinking." Departing from the tradition of eating ehomaki, adults are opting to enjoy sake while facing the lucky direction. This emerging practice is seen as a way to invite good luck for the upcoming season and fulfill personal wishes. This year, the fortunate direction is east-northeast.


Sake's Role in Setsubun: Toasting to New Beginnings


Setsubun coincides with the release of new sake brews, making it a perfect time for a unique celebration. Tochigi Prefecture has actively promoted ehonomi since 2016, collaborating with local breweries and businesses to boost sake consumption in the region. Embracing ehonomi is simple – just prepare your favorite sake, turn towards the lucky direction, and sip in silence while contemplating your wishes.


Cup Sake for Convenience: Miyozakura Junmai Panda Cup


For those looking for a convenient yet delightful option, Cup Sake is ideal for Setsubun celebrations. The Miyozakura Junmai Panda Cup, adorned with a charming panda design, was originally created to celebrate pandas arriving at the Tokyo Ueno Zoo. This junmai sake is light, dry, and refreshing, suitable for a quick sip or warming for a deeper rice flavor. The heat-resistant cup allows for enjoyment at various temperatures, making it a versatile choice for this special occasion.




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