Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Full of beans Tuesday Feb. 1, 2011

During my usual Tuesday torture aka my Japanese lesson, we deviated from the normal lesson plan to discuss Japanese culture, specific to February.  I found it quite interesting, so I thought I would share.

February is the coldest month of the year in Japan.  Snowfall is quite heavy in Hokkaido and the Japan Sea coastal areas and many snow festivals are held there during February.  We in Tokyo, bordering the Pacific, do not experience snow which is just fine by me.   Having grown up in Wisconsin,  I am quite happy never to lift a shovel again.  The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido is famous for its extremely large snow and ice statues and replicas of famous buildings and people from the mainland of Japan as well as from all over the world to come and see them.

February the 3rd is Setsuban.  On the lunar calendar, this is the turning point from winter to spring - woo hoo!  To celebrate the coming of spring and to drive away evil spirits, a bean-throwing festival is held.  Do not ask me what kind of beans, I do not know.  I assume dried beans and not frozen green beans although I could be wrong.  At Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, men and women born under the same zodiac sign of the current year (toshiotoko and toshion'na), throw the beans - this is great for celebrity spotting...if you're down with Japanese celebrities, which I sadly am not.

At  home, one of the parents (generally the father) dons a rather scary mask in the entranceway or the living room and the children throw beans at him and shout "Evil spirits outside, good luck within".  Putting the mess aside, this sounds like a lovely tradition although I have yet to convince The Husband to participate.  Apparently being pelted by rocks, err I mean beans is not the way he wants to end the day.  G will be partaking in this festival on Thursday at school (yay, no mess at home) and I'm waiting to hear his take on the celebration.

The next day, February 4th, is Risshun which means the first day of spring.  Although it remains cold throughout the month, plum blossoms and daffodils begin to bud and I'm told that you can smell the fragrance in the chilly air.

One twig of plum blossoms,
One twigful of
 - Ransetsu

A little Haiku for you, until next time.


1 comment:

  1. I can't see Stan participating in that ritual either, LOL! Can't wait to hear what G thought of it at school.