February 3rd* is a special day in Japan - Setsubun.
The separation of seasons. The day before the first day of Spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar.
Also known as the Bean Throwing Festival.
Roasted soybeans are tossed to drive out demons from the home, the office, the school, the temple, the shrine. There might even be someone dressed as a demon to throw the beans at.
|Image: Eiji Okamoto|
While throwing the soybeans, one must chant "Oni wa soto. Fuku wa uchi." Roughly - "out with the demons, in with the luck!"
Then happily munch one bean for each year of your life - perhaps one more for good luck.
|Makizushi Image Source|
Top it all off with a long maki roll, eaten facing that year's lucky direction (2011 is south-south-east) and you've cleared the way for a demon-free luck-filled Spring!
*Setsubun is sometimes celebrated on February 4th.