The first day of spring in the traditional Japanese calendar, falling in early February, is called "Risshun". This year it will be on February 4th.
Tradition states that this day is the start of the life of the year.
Farmers all over Japan still follow tradition based on the sun's movement for their farming activities. All important dates for farming are calculated from Risshun.
According to tradition, frost is most likely to fall until the 88th day of Risshun. On May 2nd, the 88th evening after Risshun, spring sowing should beginning and it is the day that marks the beginning of the new tea harvest season (1st Harvest).
Setsubun - The day before Risshun
Setsubun is a fun Japanese festival celebrated the day before Risshun
Families celebrate by throwing roasted soybeans outside the door of their house to chase out the Oni (naughty ogres or spirits) or, even more fun, throwing roasted soybeans at dad dressed up like an Oni!
When the beans are thrown, the children (and adults) shout, "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" which means Oni out! Happiness in!
The beans are thrown to chase the bad spirits (Oni) out of the home and bring happiness or good luck for the following year. Everyone then eats some of the roasted soybeans as a treat - one for each year of their life plus one extra for the coming year - so a 10 year old would get 11 beans to eat.
Another tradition is to eat an entire long sushi roll. This is supposed to give good luck. At Setsubun, while eating the roll, you need to stand facing the lucky direction, which changes each year, and remain completely silent.
Though still cold in Japan, days start to get noticeably longer and it begins to feel that winter is on its way out, and tea trees are getting ready for the 1st Harvest.