Setsubun is a bean-throwing event held at the beginning of spring to chase out ogres.

Every year, Japan welcomes “Setsubun” on February 3rd. Setsubun means, “seasonal turning point” and Japan used to celebrate New Years in February, according to the old calendar. We throw roasted soybeans outside the house during the New Year to chase away ogres and maliciousness. It’s been said that spirits of the harvest dwell in soybeans and that the soybeans are used for Shinto rituals. After throwing beans outside the house, we also throw beans in our houses to welcome fortune. Lastly, we eat an amount of beans equal to our own age and add one for the New Year to pray for the well being of the New Year.



Let’s participate in the bean throwing festival at Mitsumine Shrine!

Mitsumine Shrine is located in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture and every February 3rd, many people come for the bean throwing festival. During this event, men of the year (men born in a year with the same Chinese zodiac sign as the current year) dress in Kamishimo (ceremonial dress worn by samurai) and scatter beans from the lucky measuring container while shouting “Fuku-wa-uchi,” which literally means, “In with fortune.” Then, the men behind shout “Gomottomosama!” and raise their Gomottomosama sticks. Bean throwing is repeatedly held 5 times during the day at 7am, 11am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm. Small paper packages containing soybeans are scattered from the shrine veranda and people try to catch them as if to “catch fortune.” You can eat an amount of soybeans from the package equal to your age and add 1 more for the New Year to, “Take the fortune inside.”


The highlight of Mitsumine Shrine’s Setsubun is “Gomottomosama”

What makes bean throwing here unique to any other place is the Gomottomo stick. The stick is 1m long, made of Hinoki wood, and has a sacred straw rope that holds 2 tangerines, all together representing a phallus. This symbolic Gomottomosama is said to bless fertility, marriage, longevity, as well as bumper crops and a large catch of fish. Shouting out, “Gomottomosama!” during the event at the vividly colorful shrine somehow makes you refreshed and energized.

Bean throwing festival at Mitsumine Shrine
■Date and Time
February 3rd, 2015; 7am, 11am, noon, 2pm, and 4pm



298-1 Mitsumine, Chichibu city, Saitama Pref.

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Writer / Translator

I’m a freelance translator from Tokyo who likes to travel right in the middle of the unpredictables in life. Through the translation of articles I hope to create points of contact between Japan and the rest of the world. As a writer, I want to add information that isn’t in the guide book, from a “wasabi” perspective!



Address 298-1 Mitsumine, Chichibu city, Saitama Pref
Access Chichibu Main line. Get off at Mitsumine Station, and change to the bus for Mistumine Shrine (Mitsumine Jinja)