Following up on the New Year and Seijin no Hi 成人の日(Coming-of-age Day), the next big event of the Japanese calendar is Setsubun 節分.

Setsubun can be translated into English as ‘Season Division’ and marks the day before the beginning of Spring according to the old Japanese calendar. The day is celebrated as part of Japan’s Spring Festival 春祭り through a number of rituals that are believed to drive away the evil spirits of the bad year.

Perhaps the most well known ritual of Setsubun is mame maki 豆まき, where members of the household will purify their home by scattering roasted soybeans and chanting ‘Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out! Fortune in!)’.

Another custom of Setsubun which has become increasingly popular in recent decades is the eating of an uncut makizushi roll known as ehomaki. The custom, which originated in Osaka, sees individuals attempt to eat the whole ehomaki roll in silence whilst facing the year’s lucky compass direction according to the zodiac of the year.

Ehomaki rolls are filled with seven different ingredients that represent the Shichifukujin (Seven Gods of Happiness). Typical ingredients used in the rolls are kanpyō, egg, eel, shiitake mushrooms and tofu alongside rice and the nori wrap, but there are no official rules, so they can feature any variety of fillings.

This year, the lucky direction will be South-South East, and for those looking for extra luck throughout the year, Daimaru Matsuzakaya Ueno’s Hoppe Town store has created a special Amabie-designed ehomaki roll, which features a depiction of the plague-fighting yokai in every single bite.

The special ehomaki roll is topped with delicate gold leaf shavings and is filled with tuna, salmon and mustard. It will be limited to just 20 samples, which will be sold on 2 February 2021 for ¥ 2,021 so be sure to be quick if you want to get your hands on one.

The store will also be selling a variety of more traditional ehomaki rolls, as well as rolls inspired by the Year of the Ox. In previous years there have been plenty of extravagant and strange ehomaki designs and ingredients such as a luxury whole lobster ehomaki and a gold-leaf wrapped ehomaki which sold for a whopping 15, 800 yen.

Amabie Ehomaki Roll

Price: ¥ 2,021
When: 2 February 2021
Where: ほっぺタウン (Hoppe Town), Daimaru Matsuzakaya Ueno, Tokyo

By - Connie Sceaphierde.