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Ayumi Luke – Board Member – February 2021 Blog

Groundhog and Setsubun 節分・立春

February 2nd was Groundhog day in US and also 節分(setsubun) in Japan. The groundhog says spring will come in 6 weeks but it’s the day before the beginning of spring in Japan. Although February is the coldest month in Japan, people have celebrated the beginning of spring on 立春(risshun) which is the day after 節分 means the first day of spring in the old calendar.

Japan has so many customs. Yes, of course we have things to do on 節分 (setsubun)! It’s 豆まき( bean scattering).You throw soy beans at 鬼 ( Oni:devil) saying “ Devils out! Fortune in!”.I bet a lot of Japanese said “ Get away Corona virus!” by scattering soybeans this year. Then we eat 恵方巻き( Ehomaki) which is a whole sushi roll.You eat the whole sushi roll without talking facing the lucky direction for the year. This year’s direction is 南南東( South South east).I made sushi rolls but cut them up for my American husband and a son. My Ehomaki of 2021! Get away Corona virus!


Spring has come! 枕草子 春はあけぼの。やうやう白くなりゆく、山際少し明かりて、紫たちたる雲の細くたなび きたる。

In spring, it is the dawn. The sky at the edge of the mountains slowly starts to brighten with the approach of day, and the thinly trailing clouds nearby are tinted purple. (Translated by Mark Jewel 2006). If you are educated in Japan, you must read this oldest essay “ 枕草子 ‘’(makuranosoushi:The Pillow Book) written by 清少納言( Seisho Nagon) in high school. My siberian husky somehow knows that it’s almost spring and she barks at me for a morning walk at 6 am. When I took her out, I remembered this essay which was written more than 1000 years ago in Japan. She describes the dawn in spring as the most beautiful. Everyday is different. I wonder if those Japanese immigrants 100 years ago living on Vashon also felt the same thing when they saw the beautiful Cascades and Mt.Rainier in the early morning in spring…




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