Saturday, 6 February 2010

Welcome the spring with a sardine head

Officially it is spring!
It seems though that the announcement, based on the old Chinese calendar, precipitates a sudden plunge in temperature.... Niigata has had its heaviest snow for more than 20 years.  Akita and Aomori were set for a dumping last night.

The end of the winter, Setsubun, is marked with a bean throwing - casting out the bad and inviting good luck: "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi". Usually people buy soybeans but pistachio work just as well.  I mentioned to Hiro that we could put an oni (devil? but that isn't a good translation) mask on the door, much like the Russian Christmas Angel we had there over Christmas.  He was aghast. 

There is already a custom of what to put on the door - a sardine head....

Suspecting it was either an Akita oddity or that he was pulling my leg, I googled sardine head setsubun.  Sure enough there is such a tradition...Oni don't like sardines.... I suspect good luck wouldn't want much to do with them either though....

The plums have started blooming, it will soon be the cherry trees.  Bring on the spring, sardines and all.

The picture comes from the website above.  It a very interesting blog - and among many food related topics explains the custom of sardines.

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