鬼は外! 福は内! Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!
In Japan, February 3 is Setsubun (節分), the day before the first day of spring. Traditionally, the celebration includes a “bean-scattering” ritual designed to expel bad luck (and demons) which began during the Muromachi Era–which also happens to be the setting for my Hiro Hattori novels.
The ritual involves scattering roasted soybeans while saying “鬼は外! 福は内!” (Demons out! Luck in!) In many families, the father (or oldest male) wears an Oni (demon) mask and the children fling soybeans at him while yelling the lucky phrase.
Many temples also have special Setsubun ceremonies, involving the scattering or tossing of roasted soybeans.
People also typically eat roasted soybeans on Setsubun, for luck, and many of the stores here in Tokyo have had special displays of roasted soybeans (plain and sugared) and Oni masks for the last two weeks.
It’s still chilly here in Japan – winter won’t loosen her grip for a few more weeks – but Setsubun means that spring is definitely on the way!