February 3rd is a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (節分), which according to the old calendar marks the turning point when winter gives way to Spring (also called “risshun” 立春).
There’s a lot of traditions for Setsubun. One tradition is that people make special sushi rolls called ehōmaki (恵方巻き). The tradition is to eat the whole roll facing a specific direction, which changes yearly according to geomancy, without saying a word. If you successfully do this, you will have good luck. This year (2017) the auspicious direction was NNW. Here’s me stuffing my face in the process:
Different areas of Japan have different ways of making ehōmaki. For example, people in Miyazaki Prefecture use lettuce with shrimp and mayonaise, while people in Yamagata Prefecture use roasted-chestnut paste.
My wife made this one with seven ingredients to match the Seven Luck Gods (shichifukujin 七福神):
- kanpyō (stewed Calabash Squash)
- shiitake mushrooms
- unagi eel
- takuwan (pickled Daikom radish)
Further, it’s fun to dress up as an orge (oni 鬼) so kids can throw roasted soy beans at you. This is called mamemaki (豆まき). The idea is to drive out bad luck and bring in the good luck.
The mask I am wearing was made by my daughter when she was 6, so it isn’t very fancy but I liked it so much I use it every year instead of buying one. This year, my son made one too and got in on the act. It was a daddy-son Oni combination!
Happy (belated) Setsubun to everyone!