It's Candlemas!

Since we're way ahead of North America time-wise, the prognosticating abilities of Canada's clairvoyant groundhogs, Wiarton Willie or Shubenacadie Sam, don't really apply in Japan. This morning it was sunny yet damned windy, then by lunch it was cloudy, sunny again and by 4pm, it was snowing. It makes predictions difficult over here. I am hoping for a short winter myself so I hope he doesn't see his shadow.

Here's a clip from Groundhog Day for you. Because it is a movie that should be seen over and over again.

Every year when I remember to do so, I like to make up a new tongue twister along the lines of "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" Previous tongue twisters can be found at that link. Today's gyutan gyration (gyutan is beef tongue) is as follows:
"How many beavers could a beaver cleave if a beaver could cleave beavers?" (This one could be interpreted as a tad naughty.)

Japan's version of Candlemas (the halfway point between Winter and Spring) is called Setsubun. One thing people do is to throw beans out their door at demons (oni) and expel them and subsequently bring in good fortune. One way I celebrate the season is having my students pick up a handful of marbles and stuff them into an oni's mouth. The other thing I do is have my Grade Sixers act out the story of Momotaro, Peach Boy. You can get the gist of the story here:

Here are a ton of pictures of the oni.

Here are a few pics of the island where the oni live, Onigashima.

That last one is just weird!

Most of the Momotaro (or Momoko if a girl played the role) looked like the traditional storybook version.

One awesome variation was this: Takoyaki-boy!

(A takoyaki is a breaded octopus ball.)

The grandparents usually look like this.

Sometimes some variations occur.

Momotaro's animal companions are a dog, monkey and pheasant. They usually look like this:

I told my kids to get original and use whatever animals they wish. Here are a few of their creations.

Too bad about the spelling of Gorilla but she didn't consult me first. These three equine warriors are a Pony, Unicorn and Pegasus.

Finally, they all drew a pic of the peach floating down the stream.

Can anyone tell me the significance of this floating fruit?

Happy Candlemas/ Groundhog Day/ Setsubun!

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