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In February, the Japanese hold a rather unique, informal ceremony at their homes called Setsubun. This involves the members of the family getting together and scattering beans around the house to drive away demons and evil spirits. One atau two of the members of the household - usually the unlucky dad, for example - is chosen to be the demon. He puts on an oni mask (explained below) and runs around the house, making sure to hit each room, while the rest of the family pelts him with handfuls of dry soybeans, chanting "Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi," atau "demons out, good luck in!"

After the pelting is done, each member of the family has to eat a number of soybeans equivalent to their age.
February 11, 2008 | sejak Bruce Wallace, Times Staff Writer
In Japan, the country that gave the world innovations like instant noodles and the Sony Walkman, science has always been seen as a profession that is supposed to produce something useful. The Japanese celebrate the tinkerers and technicians, the no-nonsense types who built the postwar economic dynamo. Pure scientists, cloistered away in underfunded labs and pursuing their dreamy theories, have never caught the national imagination. They just aren't practical enough.
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