|courtesy of rob_rin at Flickr|
Groundhog Day yesterday...Setsubun in Japan today. A somewhat different observed holiday there in which good fortune is swept in while the devils are swept out. In fact, the expression which is exhorted all over the country is:
Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!
"Out with the devil, in with good fortune!"
In some of the smaller communities and close-knit neighbourhoods of the big cities, people dressed up as demons or devils pretend to invade the houses before kids throw dried beans at them to drive them out. The littlest tots are effectively left traumatized.
A more recent tradition came out of a marketing ploy in Nagoya (kinda like introducing the solid chocolate Easter Bunny) apparently in which people have to swallow whole a long log of maki sushi called E-Ho Maki. To guarantee good luck, one has to follow 3 conditions: 1) the E-Ho Maki has to be eaten in a certain direction within the house...said direction shifts from year to year; 2) it must be eaten in one gulp, and 3) the eater (future asphyxiation victim?) cannot utter a word. Sounds like a fine Klingon tradition or innovative torture for the next "Hostel"movie. I did it once last year at my old school...even with my Jabba mouth, it was a challenge. This year's direction was North by Northwest...so I'm sure the late great Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, must be rolling with great jollity in his grave. I guess you could even call it the Deep Throat of sushi-eating (not the Watergate snitch, but that movie starring....well, you know what I'm talking about already).
But I guess I didn't need to eat E-Ho Maki today. Suddenly after several weeks of inactivity, I find myself with a lot of work to do. I'm gonna be teaching a total of 6 hours next Monday in my first sub teacher gig downtown, I've got Mr. Moriya's Skype lesson tomorrow night, giving a talk on my 17 years in Japan on Sunday, and finally all those financial reports to translate into English by the 15th.