Setsubun, the Japanese festival celebrating the arrival of spring

15 Feb 2017 in Discover Japan

Setsubun is more than just a national festival - it brings luck to the Japanese and drives out evil spirits!


Setsubun celebrates the arrival of spring. Specifically, it is the day preceding the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar. It is a national festival, celebrated enthusiastically across the entire country. Some temples even invite celebrities and athletes to join in the great festivities.

The ceremony of the seasons

In days gone by, the term Setsubun was used for every change of season, but nowadays it has only been kept for the change from winter into spring, which is seen as the most significant transitional period of the year. This festival is celebrated in every household with a special ritual.

Setsubun traditions

Each family roasts beans and then throws them around inside the house, and outside too, opening the windows and shouting “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” This means, “Out with demons and evil spirits! In with good luck and happiness!”

A different way of celebrating

The town of Kinugawa, in the Tochigi prefecture, celebrates setsubun in a slightly different way. It is said it’s because of the meaning of its name. In Japanese, kinugawa means “the river of the angry demon”, which surely explains why in this region the demon is invited into the house along with good luck.

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Japanese meal

Just five minutes by car from Hoshino Resorts KAI Kinugawa, near Kinugawa Onsen station, you can join in the celebration of setsubun by taking part in a popular procession.


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