Ehou maki on Setsubun no hi
Today is once again Setsubun no hi. In Japan, Setsubun (節分) is the day before the beginning of each season. This year’s ehou (lucky direction) is a bit to the right of East-North-East.This year, I’m able to taste ehou maki. Really …… a good one 🙂 While I’m at it, here are the ehou for the next four years:
- 2009 – East-North-East
- 2010 – West-South-West
- 2011 – South-South-East
- 2012 – North-North-West
This year, setsubun no hi (節分の日) falls on the 3rd of February (some years it’s on the 4th). It marks the start of the spring season or risshun (立春) in Japan according to the old lunar calendar. It’s not an official national holiday, but it is celebrated in ways all meant to drive away bad luck and bring in new, good luck. Most of the traditional rituals revolve around beans, because beans are considered to be very lucky. But there is another way of celebrating setsubun no hi, and that’s with a big, long, uncut sushi roll called ehou-maki.
Nowadays though the ehou-maki tradition has become popular nationwide. They are sold everywhere, especially at convenience stores, who take this as an opportunity to get people to celebrate, buy and eat in that awkward gap in between New Year’s feasting and Valentine’s Day chocolate gorging.
[Edit: ehou is pronounced eh-hoe by the way, not ee-haw.]
This made me react in So, what makes an ehou-maki different from a regular sushi roll? There are basically three rules:
- It must contain seven ingredients, because seven is a lucky number.
- It must not be cut, because it might cut (off) your luck.
- You have to eat it while facing the lucky direction and wish, which changes every year! This year’s lucky directly is East-North-East.
- Finally, you must eat the whole roll in total silence.
A seven-ingredient sushi roll is basically a futomaki, or fat sushi roll, and that is what the directions are for. You can of course order a regular futomaki from your favorite sushi takeout, and ask them to put in seven ingredients and to not cut it. Then on Sunday, face the right away, and solemnly eat your roll in total silence.