01 February 2024

The tradition of ehomaki, the sushi for Setsubun 

Setsubun is a Japanese festival aimed at warding off evil spirits. It takes place on February 3, marking the separation between winter and spring according to the traditional Japanese solar period. It is believed that bad things, represented by demons, tend to emerge during seasonal changes. To send away these monsters, the Japanese practice mamemaki, a tradition where they throw beans while shoutingOni wa soto, Fuku wa uchi” (“Demons out, happiness in”). They also have the custom of eating ehomaki (or ehoumaki), a thick sushi roll. 


What is ehomaki?   

La traddition de l'ehomaki à Setsubun - Ehomaki Tradition for Setsubun
Picture: Ehomaki 

Ehomaki is a thick maki consumed on Setsubun day. “Ehorefers to the direction of the god of good fortune, and “maki” to rolled sushi. It is believed that eating this roll in the right direction brings luck and happiness. This direction changes every year, so it’s essential to check beforehand. In 2024, it is towards the east/northeast. 


History of ehomaki

The history of ehomaki originates in Osaka, following a promotional campaign by the Sushi and Nori Seaweed Association. While several theories exist, all converge on the desire for commercial prosperity, health, and family safety. Today, eating ehomaki on Setsubun day is a widespread tradition throughout Japan. 

Rules for eating ehomaki

Ehomaki règles

Picture: Rules for eating ehomaki

There are specific rules for enjoying ehomaki. It must be eaten whole, without cutting it, as it contains various ingredients symbolizing good fortune. Silence is also required, as speaking is said to let blessings escape from the mouth. 


What ingredients to put in ehomaki? 

Ehomaki garniture

Picture: Ehomaki

Ehomaki ingredients vary, but tradition dictates it should contain seven different ingredients, referring to the “seven gods of good fortune.” Among the classic ingredients are grilled eel, egg, shiitake mushroom, sliced gourd (kanpyo), cucumber, sakuradenbu (seasoned fish), and tofu. However, in recent years, many variations have emerged, including seafood and meat. 


Ehomaki recipe


Picture: Ehomaki recipe 

Discover our blog article dedicated to the ehomaki recipe!


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