Today is arguably one of the strangest holidays to be observed in Japan: setsubun no hi, the turning of the seasons. Parents around the country strap on plastic ogre-masks and hop around the house while their young children pelt them with dried beans, yelling, "Demons out, good luck in." Beans are scattered around the house in the four cardinal directions to protect against the red, blue, black and white devils in the coming year. The demons have ox horns and wear a tiger pelt, symbols taken from the Chinese compass that governs direction, travel and movement.

In another direction-related custom, people in Osaka celebrate the coming of spring by preparing specially rolled makizushi. Each person who wants to secure the best possible luck for the coming year must buy one of these sushi rolls and eat it whole (marukaburi), without speaking a word, facing the direction that is predicted to produce the most potential fortune for that year.

This tradition, originally from Aichi Prefecture, was appropriated by the Osaka Seaweed Sellers Association in 1977, when they sponsored a mass sushi-rolling on the famous Dotombori walking-street downtown. Intense marketing each subsequent year has catapulted it into a full-blown tradition; on the holiday this year, the Hanshin department store in Osaka will sell 40,000 rolls.