方角(=hougaku) + 節分(=Setsubun) Lesson

February 3, 2010 in Japanese culture


:grin: 「今年は西南西の方向を向いて食べるんだよ!」

(=Kotoshi wa seinansei no houkou wo muite taberundayo!)

“This year, you have to eat it facing west-south-west!”

:maggie-small: :「お腹すいたからどっちでもいいのに…」

(=Onaka suitakara docchi demo ii noni…)

“I don’t care which direction I face… I am hungry…”

Today’s lesson is about 節分 ( = setsubun) and 方角 ( = hougaku)!

★ 節 分 = setsubun)

February 3rd is called 節分 ( = setsubun) in Japan.

節分 ( = Setsubun) originally means “to divide seasons”. It’s the day before the first day of each season.  But it only indicates February 3rd now.

February 3rd or 4th is called  立春 ( = risshun) and it is the day when spring starts and also it’s a beginning of a new year in Japanese lunar calendar.

:l: What do we do on 節分 ( = setsubun)?

We throw roasted soybeans 大豆 ( = daizu) that is called, 豆まき ( = mamemaki.)

We throw beans inside the house or around the house with the windows and doors open and shout 「鬼は外!福は内!」(=Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!) means “Demons out! Good luck in!” This will get rid of bad luck and invite in good luck.  One person,usually a father, wears  the (=oni) demon mask and the rest throw beans at that person.  It’s customary to pick up the beans off the floor and eat the number equal to your age in the hope that this will get you good health and good luck.

A lot of shrines or temples hold a 豆まき  ( = mamemaki) throwing soybeans event.

Some of the big shrines or temples have celebrities as guests to throw beans to crowds.



The above picture is 節分豆 ( = setsubun mame) You can buy these roasted soybeans before Feb.3rd.



Some of the packages contains masks of 鬼  ( = oni) demons.

The one on the left is おかめ(= okame) which represents( = fuku) good luck.

You can see that the packages say 鬼は外、福は内  ( = Oniwa soto, fuku wa uchi) Demons out, Good luck in.


Also in this picture you can see the kanji

立春(=risshun) the day when spring starts in Japanese lunar calendar.

大吉(=Daikichi) means good luck.

We  eat 恵方巻き ( = ehoumaki) on 節分  ( = setsubun) which is a thick sushi roll. This custom is mainly from

近畿地方 ( = kinki chihou) =Kinki area (in the West part of Japan).

The sushi roll has to have seven ingredients such as

干瓢   ( = kanpyou)dried gourd shavings,

胡瓜  ( = kyuuri) cucumber

人参  ( = ninjin) carrots

椎茸  ( = shiitake) shiitake mushrooms

出し巻き卵  ( = dashimakitamago) sweeten egg omelette

( = unagi) eel

海老 ( = ebi) shrimp

  ( = sake)/ サーモン(=saamon) salmon

でんぷ ( = denpu) pink colored fish powder), etc.

There is no specific rule for the ingredients but they represent the 七福神 ( = shichifukujin) Seven Deities of Good Fortune.

Every year has a different good luck direction called 恵方 ( = ehou).

Cf. We also use 吉方(位) ( = Kippou(i)) for good luck direction.

This year 恵方 ( = ehou) is 西南西  ( = seinansei) west-south-west.

( !to right! Updated information : For the year 2016, 恵方  (= ehou) is 南南東= nan-nan-tou= south‐southeast)

You are supposed to eat the sushi roll on the night of Feb. 3rd but you are not supposed to cut it. This is supposed to help you not “cut” the good relationships = 縁を切らない ( = en wo kiranai).

While eating you should face 恵方 ( = ehou)good luck direction and concentrate on  wishing for happiness. Don’t talk until you finish the roll! (I have no problem doing this!)

Now, I will teach you directions.

方角 ( = hougaku) directions, bearing

Ex. 霧で何も見えなくなり方角がわからなくなった。

( = Kiri de nanimo mienaku nari hougaku ga wakaranaku natta.)

I couldn’t see anything for the fog and lost my bearings.

Ex. は風水を信じているので今年は東の方角には旅行に行かない。

( = Watashi wa fuusui wo shinjite iru node kotoshi wa higashi no hougaku niwa ryokou ni ikanai.)

Since I believe  Feng Shui, I won’t travel in the direction of east this year.


= hou/kata/gata

•方法 ( = houhou) method, way


( = Nihongo wo manabu yoi houhou wa arimasenka?)

Is there any good way to study Japanese?

方向  ( = houkou) direction, trend, stream and etc.

方向音痴   ( = houkou onchi) a person who is bad at directions

Note : 方向 ( = houkou) is a synonym of 方角 ( = hougaku) , direction or bearing,  such as North, East,West, South, etc.

(Ex. 西の方向 ( = nishi nohoukou)=西の方角  ( = nishi no hougaku)=in the direction of west)

It also has a meaning of a direction that people or project proceeds.


( = Kono keikaku wa houkousei ga nai)

This project lacksdirection


( = Tadashii houkou ni susumu.)

To proceed in the right direction.


=tsuno/kado/kaku/gaku corner, angle, horn


(= Soko no kado ni yakkyoku ga arimasu.)

There is a pharmacy on the corner.


東西南北(= touzainanboku) East West South North (We say the four directions in this order in Japanese.)

東  (= higashi/tou)  east

東京 (= toukyou) Tokyo

関東地方 (= kantou chihou) Kanto district

西  (= nishi/sei) west

関西弁 (= kansaiben) Kansai area accent.

(= minami/nan) south

南向きの部屋 (= minami muki no heya) The room facing south.

( = kita/hoku) north

北枕 ( = kitamakura) to put the pillow toward north.

:mm: Culture note : Some Japanese people avoid 北枕 (= kitamakura) because of the old custom of putting the deceased person’s body facing north.

Ex. 彼は東京に来たばかりで西も東もわからない。

(=Kare wa toukyou ni kitabakari de nishi mo higashi mo wakaranai.)

He has just come to Tokyo so he has no idea where anything is.

!to right! From the first Maggie’s picture:


(=Kotoshi wa seinansei no houkou wo muite taberundayo!)

“This year, you have to eat it facing west-south-west!”

•〜の方向を向く  ( = ~no houkou wo muku) to face/turn to the direction of ~

•食べるんだよ ( = taberundayo) You are supposed to eat/You should eat (casual command or suggestion)


(=Onaka suitakara docchi demo ii noni…)

“I don’t care which direction I face… I am hungry…”

•お腹すいた ( = Onaka suita) to be hungry (casual)

~から  ( =~kara) Because ~

どっちでも ( =docchi demo ) (casual)

→(Formal どちらでも( =dochirademo)whichever, whatever

どっちでもいいのに ( = docchicemo iinoni ) I don’t care whichever/whatever it is. (In this case Whatever direction it is.)

(のに ( = noni)in the end emphasizes the meaning.)

frenchbulldog マギー先生より ( = Maggie sensei yori) From Maggie-sense,


( = Mina wa kotoshi wa mamemaki wo shimashitaka? Watashi wa jaakii wo nagete moratta houga ureshiindakedo..)

Did you throw beans this year? I prefer you throw doggie treats!