|It's the Year of the Rabbit|
Setsubun, or Bean Throwing Festival.節分会の豆まき
Do the Japanese and Chinese have the same zodiacal calendar? The Japanese zodiacal calendar came from Chinese culture. The twelve-year cycle of animal years that is the basis of the Chinese zodiac is called the junishi in Japan, where spring and the new zodiacal year are ushered in with the annual Setsubun, or Bean Throwing Festival. Each year, on February 3rd or 4th, people are selected by virtue of their birth year according to the Chinese zodiac (this year is the Year of the Rabbit, so people born in any Year of the Rabbit may be chosen for the ceremony) to throw roasted soybeans from the temple's stage to the crowds; this drives away the evil spirit and brings the onlookers good luck. At home, beans are thrown while shouting, "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" ("Demons out, good fortune in!") Then everyone picks up the number of beans corresponding to his age and eats them for good luck. Some people also decorate their doorways with the heads of sardines; it seems the evil spirits don't like their smell. Who would?