Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted six more weeks of winter, but in Japan it’s already the beginning of spring. Based on the Chinese Lunar calendar, February 3 is known as Setsubun in Japan and literally means “season division.”
The Japanese mark this changing of seasons with rituals that drive out evil spirits and bring health and happiness throughout the year. They throw roasted soybeans (fukumame) at demons called oni and yell “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (“Devils out! Happiness in!”) After the soybeans are dispersed, it’s customary to eat the number of beans that corresponds to your age for good luck.
Everyone in Japan gets in on the act, including the cats. A quick peek at Instagram reveals cats dressed in oni masks and eating – or sniffing – eho-maki, thick sushi rolls with fillings that represent good health, prosperity, and happiness.
Some cats are less enthusiastic about Setsubun than others, but they know that, even though it may not feel like it, spring is just around the corner.