Red Bean Rice is often served on special occasions throughout the year in Japan, for example, birthdays, weddings and some holidays, such as Shichi-Go-San. Red Bean Rice is so strongly connected with celebration that the phrase "Let's have sekihan" has acquired the meaning "Let's celebrate". It is believed that Red Bean Rice is used for celebrations because of its red color, symbolic of happiness in Japan. In some areas, it is made when a young woman has her menarche, suggesting another source of the tradition.
It is usually eaten immediately after cooking but it may also be eaten at room temperature, such as in a celebratory bento (boxed lunch). Red Bean Rice is traditionally eaten with gomashio (a mixture of lightly toasted sesame and salt).