Friday, February 3, 2012

Special ceremonise on Feb.3rd

Thank you very much for visiting my blog while I didn't update these days.
I have been busy starting new things now.
I might be slow to update my blog for a while but I'm well!

It has been very cold in Japan.
At the Sea of Japan side, there are much snow and people have a hard time.
At the Pacific Ocean side, there are not much snow but it's very cold and we have small earthquakes more often these days. The epicenter of some tremors are near Mt. Fuji which is classified as an active volcano. The last eruption was in 1708. You know what we are afraid of now...

We are really looking forward to spring and warm weather.
According to the calender, Feb. 3rd is the last day of winter and the 4th is the first day of spring.
Considering our weather now, spring doesn't seem to come yet.
Of course not! It's because our events were originally based on the lunar calendar.

We used to use the lunar calender until 1872.
We closed our land until 1868 and our culture and tradition were protected under the seclusion policy.  However, after lots of controversies and battles, we opened our land to foreign countries and lots of foreign culture including the solar calender were brought to Japan.

The government declared  Dec. 3rd, 1872 was changed to Jan. 1st, 1873.
Many things like ceremonies and agricultural events were based on the lunar calender until 1872.
However, after the government's crazy declaration, everything was changed and the ceremonies were not suitable to the season anymore.
I don't blame that but the more deeply I understand our events, the more I realize they are not suitable to season any more.

Anyway, Feb. 3rd is `Setusbun', the last day of winter and the end of the Year.
We feel the true 2012 starts on Feb. 4th called `Rissyun', the first day of spring in Japan.

At Setusbun, we scatter beans, shouting `Oni wa Soto, Fuku wa Uchi' meaning `Devils Out, Fortune In'.
When we shout `Devils Out', we scatter beans outside house like driving out evil spirits.
When we shout `Fortune In' we scatter beans inside house like beckoning the good luck deities.
Then we eat as many beans as our age. If you are 20, you eat 20 beans wishing you health for the year.

Since there aren't small children at home, this tradition has disappeared.
But my family started this again.
It was fun!

There is another tradition to conduct on Setsubun on Feb. 3rd.
We eat a special sushi roll called `Eho Maki'.
Eho literally means good luck direction.
Maki means roll.

This is the sushi roll nearly 25cm.

Egg, cucumber, mashes and seasoned fish, and something I forgot are included inside.
In order to show inside, I cut them. We often eat these kinds of sushi rolls.
BUT! on Feb. 3rd, we shouldn't cut them and eat the whole at once without speaking, facing to the good luck direction of this year.
This year's good luck direction is North-northwest.

This eating a whole sushi roll at once tradition is very popular in the western part of Japan.
It became popular past few years in the northern part of Japan.

We tried this year!
But all my family failed....
It was impossible to eat the whole at once.

Anyway we enjoyed this traditional event this year!
I feel like I'm ready to welcome spring!!!