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....