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80115-0048 - Setsubun

Kobe, 1906

Artist Kozaburo Tamamura
Publisher Kozaburo Tamamura
Medium Collotype Print
Period Meiji
Location Kobe
Image No. 80115-0048
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Setsubun is the day before the beginning of each season, but the term is generally used mainly for the spring Setsubun, celebrated at the start of February.

Interestingly, in his book The New Year in Japan. Meiji-era photographer Kozaburo Tamamura included a photo of Setsubun as part of the New Year celebrations.

The following is the original text accompanying this photograph1:

On the fourth of February another celebration takes place; this being a sport for children, in the form of scrambling for bean, thrown by a man wearing a mask, the latter representing the “God of Fortune.” The beans are thrown high and low in all directions, the “God” exclaiming:

“The God of Fortune shall stay;
The devil shall be driven away!”

This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.


1 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.


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Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). Kobe, 1906: Setsubun, OLD PHOTOS of JAPAN. Retrieved on May 26, 2022 (GMT) from

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The reason why a photo of setsubun was included as part of the new year celebrations is that New Year’s Day marked the first day of spring according to the old calendar