Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monday holidays


The first Monday in February was not really a holiday ... as in "day off" but was celebrated by households throughout Japan. 

The traditional first day of Spring by one of those ancient solar calendars, is a day for scattering beans (mamemaki) for dispelling demons and welcoming good luck.

This picture is of a shop window where traditional sweets are sold

You can see the shop window at "Blue and White" also got on the mood for the festival.

On Setsubun, beans ... usually roasted soy beans... are tossed out the opened doors, shouting "Oni wa soto", then into the house, crying "Fuku wa uchi".
(Out with the demons! In with good luck!).

My kids had a big laugh over this because O-niwa (the honorable garden) is outside, sure enough. And our home was full of "Fuku", eight of us to be exact.

This lovely quilt was hanging in the window as part of the celebration. Made by Reiko Okunushi.

This traditional face of Lady Luck can also be found in a traditional New Years game of "Fuku warai", kind of the Japanese version of pin the tail on the donkey.

Players take the face parts and try to place them while blindfolded. 

The stacked boxes contain beans and I hear it is tradition to eat the number of beans, one for each year of age. 

I reckon "tradition" is a mistake that has been allowed to happen more than once, and they no longer put that many beans in one container so only Nikko ran around sniffing out the tossed beans.

There is also something about eating a super-big sushi roll while facing South by South-east. Paul and Nikko took care of that one too.

National Foundation Day

Yesterday was a real holiday ... as in "Day off". In truth, that is all it was. The origin was in the traditional lunar calendar when the Emperor Jimmu ascended to the throne on the first day of the first month.

It was designated as a national holiday during the Meiji era when Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar.
Originally called "Kigensetsu", it was intended to bolster the legitimacy of the imperial family over the Tokugawa Shogunate, and was a major holiday.

The holiday was abolished following World War ll. Ironically the day General MacArthur approved the draft of the model Constitution in 1946.

In 1966 it was re-established as a holiday but now watered down to a day to hang out the flag and reflect on the meaning of Japanese citizenship. Sorry, Nikko, no beans!

The carp quilt is moving along. I was glad for a few quiet days to work on the fish and the inner water circles. We have only a few more weeks to get this finished. I planned to get the center mostly quilted so that the group can work around the edges. Today the lovely ladies got a lot done and we had to lay it out on the floor and mark some more circles.

The good thing about those karisma white lead pencils is that they mark very accurately and the chalk disappears as it is quilted. The bad part is that the markings get lighter and lighter while working and often have to be re-drawn. 

No more holidays coming up this month and the fish and I will be battling it out until we meet again next week. 

Here is a look at the back side. It looks pretty good for a group effort. I hope we can keep up the momentum.


  1. It is a truly beautiful quilt. Something to be so proud of!! I think the fabric on the orange fish's face is fantastic!! What will become of the quilt when it is finished since it is a group effort on the quilt? So difficult with those marking pencils. You want them to mark so clearly, stay there till you are finished with them.. but be GONE when you want them gone. Oh and be perfectly thin dark lines..Where is that perfect pencil???

  2. the carp quilt looks wonderful xx I do so love to hear about other peoples holidays ... and what they symbplise xx Thanks for sharing with us xx

  3. I hope the carp will cooperate with you this week Julie! Already looking forward to next Tues.

  4. Thanks for telling us all about the Japanese holiday. It sounds like such fun, throwing beans, eating beans, singing songs. The "Fish Quilt" is coming along beautifully. It's nice to have help on all that quilting.

  5. Thank so much Julie for sharing with us your explanations about japanese holidays :that is really interesting :)
    Your carp quilt looks beautiful !! what a great work !.
    Have a nice day,

  6. Thank you so much for posting about these Japanese traditions and holidays. And I love your carp quilt. The bright colors of the carp contrast so beautifully with the background fabric.

  7. Pretty good!?? I think it looks great! I love the fish on the blue. It is so interesting to hear about Japanese holidays and non-holidays. It seems (to me anyway) to be so complex and like it would take years to learn all the traditions, rules and their meanings.

  8. That is faint praise, pretty good, , way too modest, I would say " Wonderful". the carp are so life-like, great fabric selection, and the quilting in circles, super work from everyone. Greetings from Jean

  9. Sounds like a fun holiday and a good reason to take a day off;)
    The quilting is perfect for that design, love the circles, similar to the ponds.
    I use a rolling chalk pen, easy to grab and roll out a line or design, while I am working.


  10. I love your stories about Japanese traditions Julie. The carp quilt is coming along great - it's going to be gorgeous! blessings, marlene

  11. the carps seems to be alive! they have moviment!! I enjoy seeing the shop window. Hugs...

  12. Your carp quilt looks amazing, Julie! And I always love reading your stories about Japanese culture.

  13. There is still so much to learn about Japan, Thank you 'sempai'.
    One thing about the Bean Throwing tradition is that you will find beans hidden in corner or under furniture long afterwards - or is that a sign of sloppy housework?! These days it is getting popular to throw unshelled peanuts instead. They can then be picked up, shelled and eaten.
    The KARISMA chalk marker is a favourite of mine, too.
    Another of my favourites is the carp quilt. You have made good use of the print to make the most realistic looking carp and the quilting will be the icing on the cake.

  14. Oh I love that quilt and the quilting on it. Those circles/bubbles are sew cute!

  15. I love your carp on the old Japanese fabric background!