It might be a little hard to sort out this picture (Blackberry camera's inability to take close up pictures strikes again!), but that little packet has roasted soybeans inside.
February 3rd is Setsubun, a bean-throwing festival that marks the beginning of spring in Japan. I'm told that fathers run around family homes wearing a mask that resembles the angry red face on the packet in the picture and their children throw beans at them--driving evil spirits out of their home. This Time Out Tokyo article describes the ritual as spiritual spring cleaning.
I didn't witness any actual throwing of beans, but I did have a nice, American-style brunch (breakfast burritos in Tokyo!?!) at Sujis. There are so many excellent places to eat in Tokyo, but a lot of the restaurants are tucked away off the main roads and finding these places can be a real challenge if you don't have any Japanese language capability. That's why it's so nice to tag along with co-workers!
Other culinary adventures this week:
- Okinawan restaurant in the office building. The staple of the dish I had was goya, a bitter melon. I think some people love this flavor, but it wasn't for me. That's not to say that I don't think about visiting Okinawa. Check out this awesome blog by an American expat living in Okinawa who cooks up a storm and takes the most beautiful pictures. I'm blown away by the fresh produce she has access too!
- Yakiniku restaurant in Hiroo. The cuts of beef were high quality and delicious (apologies to my vegetarian friends). They source their satsuma meat from Kagoshima prefecture and are very proud of that--there was a detailed supply chain diagram posted in the ladies restroom. We were able to get a reservation for a private room and our waiter was exceptional (which is saying a lot because the level of service in restaurants here is very high--so long as you have at least one Japanese speaker in your party).