Another one from Nihongo no rekishi 日本語の歴史: narikizeme 成木責!

... [O]n Setsubun or New Year's Eve in households with fruit-bearing trees, one person climbs the tree while another stands in front of it with an axe and says to the tree, "Will you fruit well next year, or not?" The person at the top of the tree then answers, "I will fruit well, I will fruit well!" This, it is said, ensures that the tree will fruit well in the coming year.

I love the menace involved here. No wheedling or praying; just the glint of the axe and the pressure of Grice's Maxim of Relation.

Here's a blog entry with some more information about (slightly different) narikizeme rituals.

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Leonardo Boiko:

Jesus should have tried that technique.

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