Early January is typically when sushi and seafood specialty shops begin to announce their lineup of ehomaki, the giant sushi rolls eaten on February 3rd for the Setsubun holiday. As some of our readers may remember from our in-depth article last year on the surprising origins, contemporary variations, and the environmental impact of the ehomaki phenomenon, Japanese department stores have taken what was originally just an overstuffed futomaki roll to new heights of extravagance.

Last year, we were considerably impressed by the price tag on an ehomaki sold at the Matsuzakaya department store in Nagoya for 7,580 JPY, lavishly decorated in gold leaf with a design that locals instantly recognized as a golden shachi gargoyle, one of several perched on the roof of Nagoya Castle.

However, this year, the top price for an ehomaki has more than doubled that amount! Deep-pocketed shoppers who visit the Tokyo Daimaru Department store's basement level food court on February 3rd will be able to take home the opulent offering pictured below:

Made by Nakajima Seafood, this ehomaki wrapped in gold leaf contains a whopping 19 ingredients, including bluefin tuna, fugu, caviar and sea urchin, and has a price tag of 15,800 JPY! Some astute ehomaki observers may point out that Nakajima Seafood made a similar sushi roll last year. However, it didn't include uni and it was 800 yen cheaper.

Only 10 will be made, so you had better line up early if you're hoping to take one home.

Some of the other lavish creations available at the Tokyo Daimaru Department store include the following:

If you're more inclined to splurge on turf rather than surf, Hiyama in Nihonbashi has an ehomaki for the discriminating meat-lover with two strips of prized Yonezawa wagyu sirloin steak weighing in at 250 grams. Just like the ehomaki above, only 10 will be made and sold only on February 3rd. It comes with a price tag of 10,800 JPY.

If you're a crab-lover, you'll surely appreciate Sapporo Kanika's bold approach to the ehomaki format. Instead of wrapping up its ingredients in nori seaweed, it opts for a thick layer of snow crab meat. Inside, the roll is stuffed with succulent red king crab meat. Only 30 will be made and available only on February 3rd for 4,860 JPY.

Several other offerings feature similar innovations in wrapping style. For example, famous French gourmet brand Paul Bocuse (Deli) has created a wagyu roast beef ehomaki with its main ingredient only on the outside of the roll. It's available now through February 3rd for 2,595 JPY.

You may have heard of sushi burritos (and in fact, as we reported last month, Japan's first sushi burrito specialty shop opened in Tokyo). Say hello to the sushi crepe, or rather an ehomaki with a crepe wrapping, over a thin omelet layer and filled with uncured ham and smoked salmon. This ehomaki by Seiyo Ginza is available from January 25th to February 3rd and costs 1,620 JPY.

And then there's the piece-de-resistance. We imagine French bakery brand Paul said let's replace the seaweed wrapper with a crispy pie crust, the rice with bread, and the filling with a sausage and sauerkraut, and voila! The press release insists on calling it a "new sensation ehomaki" and Paul calls it "the Alsatian," but the only thing it has in common with the traditional ehomaki is its cylindrical shape. If you're hankering for one of these pigs in a blanket ehomaki, only 12 are available per day.

By - Ben K.