Celebrating Setsubun with sushi

The Japanese Intercultural Association held its Setsubun Festival Friday night in Hosanna Highland near Minnesota State campus, where MSU students were invited to attend and celebrate Setsubun by making sushi rolls called Ehomaki and conversing  and interacting with other students. 

Yudai Komiyama, president of the JIA, said they spent the last month preparing for the event. 

“We actually had the same event last year, as well, so the process is kind of easy, Komiyama said. “For this event, we’d say what we’re going to do and make. We think about what we need for that and then we make our shopping list and we give a role to each of our board members.” 

Setsubun is a traditional Japanese event that is celebrated on the day before the beginning of spring. As a unique custom traditionally enjoyed during the holiday,  Ehomaki is prepared and eaten while facing the direction that is said to be lucky for the year. 

“Setsubun is when we celebrate the change of our season from winter to spring. And so it depends, like we usually do not eat in our house. It’s us throwing beans. We throw beans to remember the bad things and welcome good luck. So it’s good timing for the seasonal change,” Komiyama said. 

As Komiyama said, another custom commonly performed in Setsubun in Japan is mamemaki, which is the throwing of roasted beans out the front doors and homes or at temples and shrines. 

Students participated in this ritual where they shouted the phrase “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which translates to “Devils out, fortune in” while several JIA members dressed up as oni, also known as demons in Japanese, as the students threw beans for good fortune. 

Komiyama shared how it’s important to celebrate Setsubun on campus for both domestic and international students and how the JIA strives to share the culture and traditions of both historical and current Japan to all MSU students on campus. 

“When I got here, I saw a lot of students interested in Japanese culture, but so what they know and what actually happened today is kind of different. So there’s a gap. So I want them to have an opportunity to get in touch with actual Japanese culture and like through experience and fortunately, we have JIA and I feel like we are the only ones who can do that,” He said. “We just make events for each month. We don’t do special things on a daily basis. Like what we’re thinking is studying about Japanese language learning so we have a lot of people who are interested in Japanese like in terms of language.”

For more information on the Japanese Intercultural Association, visit www.mnsu.edu/mavcentral 

Write to Anahi Zuniga at anahi.zuniga@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: The Japanese Intercultural Association at Minnesota State celebrated Setsubun Friday with a suhi-making, bean tossing and fun. Setsubun is a traditional Japanese event celebrating the transition of seasons from winter to spring. (Alexis Darkow/The Reporter)

One thought on “Celebrating Setsubun with sushi

  • danielsebold

    How about celebrating hanzubon and Setsubon? Years ago, when I was living in South Korea, I would sometimes take the boat across to Fukuoka to get a new visa and to check out the funky hanzubon. It was like being in the States in the early seventies when the country was free.


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