Why is a head of sardine at the entrance door?/なぜ鰯の頭が玄関に。

This article can be read in about 5 minutes.

As you may remember that some people are excited around this period of the year because the first day of spring will start soon! 
In this year, 2023, it falls at 11:43 a.m. on February 4th. 
Hence, February 3rd is like the end of the year, called “Setsubunn” in Japanese.

The time when the season changes is considered as the evil spirits that cause illness and other misfortune or the ogres come. 
Aside from throwing beans to eradicate these ogres,  a head of sardine is known as an effective item.

The ogres are said to dislike the smell of grilled sardines and the rustling sound of dried soybean branches without soybeans. 
In addition, the sharp leaves of the Japanese holly tree would sting the eyes of ogres.
That’s why the bouquet of dried soybean branches, a branch of Japanese holly tree and a head of grilled sardine is perfect to eradicate the ogres.
The bouquet is decorated at the entrance door to block the ogres from entering a house.
The bouquet is called “Hiiragi-iwashi” or “Yaikagashi” in Japanese.

There is a unique Shinto ceremony called to “Yaikagashi” at Sumiyoshi Shrine in Hiroshima prefecture.
A few female attendants grill 1,000 heads of sardines.
When the smoke appears, a big fan can scatter the smell.
The ogres and other nuisances who symbolize the year would be completely eradicated.
After that, these sardine heads with a branch of a Japanese holly tree are given to the worshippers for free.
This holly ceremony dates back to the Heian period between the 9th and 12th centuries.

Throwing beans is conducted everywhere in Japan, however this practice is seen in limited areas.

Do you think Japanese people are superstitious?
I would love to know any similar practice at the change of the season if you conduct them.
Comment below!

【Translation for language learners of either English or Japanese】/英語・日本語学習者向け翻訳 えいご ・  にほんごがくしゅうしゃむ  ほんやく




数人の巫女さんが、1,000 匹の鰯の頭を焼きます。





Good day, I am the founder of Aurora Trip Nippon. Also, I am a Certified National Guide, Certified Tour Conductor, Certified General Travel Service Supervisor, as well as a Kimono Consultant.
I love Japan. So, you could ask us anything about Japan.

We're happy if you follow us. We'll inform our webpage's update through SNS!
We're happy if you follow us. We'll inform our webpage's update through SNS!
Aurora Trip Nippon

Comment You may leave a comment or image below.

  1. AvatarAnonymous says:

    I think cats will love to steal those sardine heads.

    • MikiMiki says:

      Thanks for your comment!
      You’re right.
      It would drive away evil spirits but attract cats instead.