Photo by 鹽竈神社
Setsubun is a traditional event in Japan that takes place every year in early February to mark the start of spring.
Also known as the "bean-throwing festival," this event is meant to bring a fresh start to spring by throwing fuku-mame beans at demons and inviting in good fortune. At neighborhood Setsubun events around Japan, you can see people throwing beans at "demons" (usually family members wearing a demon mask) while chanting "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" which means "Demons out, good luck in!"
During larger events held at shrines, crowds of visitors often gather around to catch beans being thrown from a platform or stage. The Setsubun Festival at Shiogama Shrine is one such festival—hundreds of guests come every year to enjoy the festivities to start the spring season on a positive note.