It is still cold, and Spring seems a way off. However, days are starting to get longer noticeably, and unmistakable signs of change are in the air.
The plum trees in my backyard have hundreds of pretty blossoms on them, and early-blooming cherry blossom variety called yama-zakura (mountain cherry blossom) have adorned the hill behind my house.
And just like every year at this time, small, pretty birds called Mejiro (white-eye) have come back.
Pretty soon, our nightingales (uguisu) will come back and fill the air with their mesmerizing songs.
According to the Japanese Shinto calendar, February 4th is the first day of Spring, celebrated by the festival of Risshun (立春, rise of Spring). The day before Risshun, February 3rd is the day of the Festival of Setsubun (節分, season's division).