Thank you the guests who kindly joined our tour on 4th of February. We had 32 guests, divided by five groups.
The day on this tour was Risshun (立春) on the old Japanese calendar. It is observed as the day when winter ends and spring begins. As the calendar says, it was very warm like spring and the best day for walking tour.
A day before Risshun, it is called as Setsubun (節分). We have two major events on Setsubun. One is Mamemaki: we scatter roasted soybeans in and around the house to 1) drive out sickness and misfortune, represented by a demon (saying “oni-wa-soto”), and 2) invite fortune and happiness, represented by a smiling goddess (saying “fuku-wa-uchi”). Also shrines or temples often hold gatherings to throw fuku-mame (lucky beans) over the assembled audience. Catching and eating these beans is thought to bring good luck. The other event is to eat Eho-maki (恵方巻き). It is a sushi roll that is eaten while facing toward the year’s “lucky” direction (north-northwest direction in 2017). This custom has originally started in the western part of Japan, but was spread throughout Japan in early 20s. Do you know the reason why it became popular? It was a strategy of sales-promotion by some convenience stores. No matter what it is on commercial basis or not, Japanese people enjoys “the event”, so Eho-maki became one of popular practices on Setsubun.
(Posted by Katsumi)