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What is Ehomaki? Introducing the Lucky Direction for Setsubun 2022, and Where to Buy It!

What is Ehomaki? Introducing the Lucky Direction for Setsubun 2022, and Where to Buy It!

Date published: 18 January 2021
Last updated: 21 January 2022

Ehomaki is a thick, rolled sushi that is traditionally enjoyed during the Japanese holiday, Setsubun (February 3, 2022). This unique custom involves eating the entire roll as a whole, in silence. Doing so is believed to bring good luck for the year.

Let's take a closer look at ehomaki: what kind of food it is, its origin and history, and where you can buy it. Enjoy celebrating Setsubun!

Table of Contents
  1. What is Setsubun?
  2. What is Ehomaki?
  3. What Kind of Sushi is Ehomaki?
  4. Setsubun 2022 falls on February 3rd, and the Lucky Direction is North-Northwest!
  5. How to Eat Ehomaki
  6. Order All Kinds of Ehomaki as Take-out!
  7. Sushiro: Four Delicious Varieties!
  8. Kura Sushi Offers an Adorable Ehomaki Collaboration with BT21!
  9. 7-Eleven's 2022 Ehomaki, Courtesy of an old-established Meat Deli

What is Setsubun?

What is Setsubun?
Setsubun marks the point in which the seasons change from winter into spring.

Setsubun falls on the day before "Risshun," the first day of spring, and marks the end of winter. The holiday maintains the ancient tradition of driving away demons and welcoming the New Year (Lunar New Year). The custom of throwing beans is said to scare demons away at Setsubun.

In addition to bean throwing, there are several other customs, such as decorating with Hiiragi Iwashi (a holly branch with a sardine head attached) to protect from evil. Another custom is eating ehomaki for good luck, which has recently picked up in popularity throughout Japan.

What is Ehomaki?

What is Ehomaki?
Ehomaki is said to have originated in Kansai.

In this rather unique custom, you eat a thick, rolled sushi called ehomaki whole, while facing the direction that is said to be lucky for the year. The custom is said to have begun as a way to pray for prosperous business. However, there are various other theories about its origin, and it is not clear which one is true.

Recently, this custom has spread all throughout Japan. Around 1960, a huge campaign in Osaka established ehomaki as an Osakan tradition. After that, it was picked up by a major convenience store, which further expanded sales nationwide, making it more well-known.

What Kind of Sushi is Ehomaki?

What Kind of Sushi is Ehomaki?
One of the great things about ehomaki is that you can make it using your favorite ingredients!

There are Seven Gods of Fortune that symbolize wealth and happiness in Japan. This sushi roll is prepared using seven different ingredients, representing these Seven Gods of Fortune. There are no set rules on what kind of ingredients one can use, however, anago and eel kabayaki, egg, and boiled shiitake mushrooms are popular choices. Ehomaki is made by wrapping the ingredients into a thick roll with rice and seaweed.

Setsubun 2022 falls on February 3rd, and the Lucky Direction is North-Northwest!

Setsubun 2022 falls on February 3rd, and the Lucky Direction is North-Northwest!
The lucky direction to face while eating your ehomaki in 2022 is North-Northwest! (Image: PIXTA)

Setsubun falls on the day before "Risshun", the first day of spring according to the lunar calendar.

Eho (which means "lucky direction" in English) refers to the direction in which Toshitokujin, the God of Fortune for the year, is facing. Basically anything you do while facing that direction is considered lucky for the year.

That is also why you eat ehomaki facing that direction as you wish for prosperity and health. The lucky direction changes every year. The direction for 2022 is north-northwest.

How to Eat Ehomaki

How to Eat Ehomaki
Learn how to eat ehomaki for good luck!

The most important thing about ehomaki is the unique way in which you eat it.

1. Never cut off the edges of ehomaki, or you may cut off your fortune! It is customary to eat it whole.
2. When eating your ehomaki, face in the direction of the deity Toshitokujin, and don't look away!
3. Eat in silence! It is believed that speaking while eating could let your luck escape. For the best luck, eat in complete silence until you are done.

Keep the three guidelines above in mind, and enjoy your ehomaki!

Order All Kinds of Ehomaki as Take-out!

Thanks to the spread of ehomaki across Japan, you can now find it at a number of stores. From major kaiten-zushi chains such as Sushiro and Kura Sushi, to convenience stores like 711, you can find a variety of ehomaki to enjoy on Setsubun!

Sushiro: Four Delicious Varieties!

Sushiro: Four Delicious Varieties!

Sushiro's ehomaki is particularly popular, and is sold every year on Setsubun. This year, there are four types: Tokujo Seafood Futomaki, Jo-Futomaki, Kimbap- Futomaki, and Small Sushi Roll Set.

Sushiro's ehomaki is particularly popular, and is sold every year on Setsubun. This year, there are four types: Tokujo Seafood Futomaki, Jo-Futomaki, Kimbap-Futomaki, and Small Sushi Roll Set. The Tokujo Seafood Futomaki (750 yen, tax included) is an indulgent sushi roll stuffed with Sushiro's most popular ingredients, such as yellowtail, tai, tuna, and raw salmon.

The Tokujo Seafood Futomaki includes 12 different ingredients (750 yen, tax included)
The Jo-Futomaki (420 yen, tax included) is made with 7 different ingredients including boiled anago (conger eel), shrimp, and eggs.

Ehomaki is available at all Sushiro stores. You can make reservations in-store, by phone, or online. (*Reservations accepted until the limit is reached.)

Kura Sushi Offers an Adorable Ehomaki Collaboration with BT21!

Kura Sushi Offers an Adorable Ehomaki Collaboration with BT21!

BT21 is an internationally-popular character brand by LINE FRIENDS, known for their beloved characters all over the world. At Kura Sushi, you can now enjoy a limited-edition ehomaki featuring an original BT21 design, as well as the classic ehomaki. Available for take-out only.

BT21 Ehomaki Set of 3: Includes shrimp, salad, and meat roll (990 yen, tax included)

We recommend the BT21 Ehomaki Set of 3, wrapped with a thin sheet featuring the special design, and a vegetable sheet in place of the usual seaweed (990 yen, tax included). It also includes an original Kura Sushi sticker! The three rolls included in the set are shrimp, salad, and meat rolls.

Gouka Kani Futomaki: stuffed with crab meat, eggs, and cucumber (380 yen, tax included)

There are a total of six ehomaki types, including the Gouka Kani Futomaki (380 yen, tax included) and the Nanafuku Maki (250 yen, tax included). All rolls are half-size (about 10 cm), with the exception of the Marukaburi Hosomaki (110 yen, tax included), and come with fresh, crispy Ariake nori which you can wrap your roll in just before you eat.

Kura Sushi locations nationwide are accepting reservations from January 4th to February 3rd. *May not be available at new locations. Take-out only.

7-Eleven's 2022 Ehomaki, Courtesy of an old-established Meat Deli

7-Eleven's ehomaki offers the perfect taste in the perfect amount, courtesy of Kakiyasu, a long-established meat shop founded in 1871 with a history of over 150 years.

Mini Kuroge Wagyu Beef Suki Ehomaki (696 yen, tax included)
The Kodawari Seafood Ehomaki (696 yen, tax included) is the perfect marriage of flavors, with the delicious perilla flavor of the seafood and the sweetness of the eggs.

The Kuroge Wagyu Beef Suki Ehomaki (1,020 yen, regular size, tax included) perfectly blends thick-grilled eggs and kinpira burdock with carefully-simmered Kuroge Wagyu prepared with Kakiyasu's 'ukashi-ni' method (a simmering method in which the meat floats in the broth). Children and adults alike will find an ehomaki that suits their taste from this wide variety, including the Kodawari Seafood Ehomaki (696 yen, tax included) and Shrimp-Stuffed Salad Ehomaki (388 yen, tax included).

To reserve yours, speak to a shop employee, and complete a reservation application form. You may submit it to the same clerk as soon as you're done. Reservation period ends January 29, 2022 (Saturday), so don't delay!

Ehomaki is a fun tradition to enjoy with your family and friends as you face the lucky direction together and eat sushi rolls in silence. Learn the history and customs of this tradition, and make a wish for good fortune in the coming year! Whether you make it yourself, or order it ready-made, ehomaki is a fun Japanese tradition you can experience for yourself!

*Please note that depending on the situation, reservations may end or be sold out.

Text by: Efeel
Translated by: Krys Suzuki

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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