In Japan, a festival known as “Setsubun” is celebrated on 3 February every year.This date is considered as the day before Risshun (the first day of spring).A special ritual known as “mamemaki” is practised in shrines and households to drive away all the bad luck in the former and upcoming year.
Roasted soybeans (also known as “fortune beans or fuku mame) are thrown while the words “Oni wa soto! Fuku was uchi!” are shouted.Then, soybeans are eaten and the number of soybeans eaten must be equivalent to one’s age.A decoration known as hiragi iwashi, made of sardine heads and holly leaves, is put up to ward off bad luck too.
In Kansai, there is an age-old tradition to eat eho maki (futomaki) on Setsubun day.On the night of Setsubun, people will face the lucky direction for the year (eho) and eat a Futomaki roll in silence, while contemplating about their wishes for the year.It is not an easy task as the futomaki sushi must be eaten as a whole roll itself and must not be cut into pieces.
The lucky direction of the year 2015 is the southwest-west.7-11 convenience stores in Japan have been selling eho maki (also known as maru kaburi sushi) since 1998.Since eho maki can be easily bought, eating futomaki during Setsubun has become a nation-wide practice.
A futomaki maki sushi contains 250 gm of rice. A smaller size of the futomkai is called the chumaki. The thinnest roll is known as hosomaki.The amount of rice and seaweed to be used for each type of sushi rolls is listed below as a reference:
Hosomaki: 80 gm sushi rice & half-sized seaweed
Chumaki: 150gm sushi rice & 1 full-sized seaweed
Futomaki: 250gm sushi rice & 1 full-sized seaweed
(1 nigiri sushi is made up of 20 gm of sushi rice.)
Eho maki usually contains 7 types of ingredients.This is due to the influence of the Seven Gods of Fortune in Japanese culture.
The seven ingredients are:
kampyo (melon gourd strips)
cucumber (can be substituted with daikon radish sprouts kaiware or lettuce)
datemaki egg omelette( can be substituted with dashimaki or yakitamago)
eel ( or conger-eel)
sakura denbu (can be substituted with minced meat or fish)
Pickled food and seafood are also used but the ingredients changes with time.
Recently, other than Futomaki, roll cakes and Mexican tortillas are also sold in convenience stores and restaurants as auspicious food items during Setsubun.Expensive high quality eho maki are also sold in high class sushi restaurants.