Experiences - Asia

Must-eat in Japan – Ehomaki Sushi Rolls

Whoever loves Asian food could not have possibly missed sushi and to top it all, what if the sushi rolls were to bring you good luck and fortune? Ehomaki Sushi rolls do just that.

Japanese cuisine has a number of dishes that are eaten with great preference on each occasion to usher in good luck, health and longevity. Ehomaki sushi rolls are eaten on Setsubun, which literally means “seasonal division” celebrated on February 3, just the day before the commencement of spring.

Ehomaki Sushi Rolls

Image Courtesy: Wally Gobetz used under the Creative Commons Licence

On this day they also throw the roasted soya bean around houses and shrines to bring in good luck and prosperity and to ward off evil and bad luck. The festival is known as mamemaki or bean throwing festival in Japan.

Origin of Ehomaki

Legend has it that Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a warrior from the Sengoku period was fighting for the unification of Japan and it is said that one of his samurai, Horio Yoshiharu ate an ehomaki on the eve of the battle in which they eventually emerged victorious. There’s yet another version to the Ehomaki origin, which says that it comes from the Osaka and the Kansai region where the merchants in the late Edo period ate these rolls for prosperity and hence it became a custom.

Symbolism of Ehomaki

The term Ehomaki literally means “fortune rolls” and is related to the seven deities of good fortune called Shichifukujin. The ehomaki is made out of seven fillings and are traditionally rolled in a sushi roll. The fillings include shiitake mushrooms, kanpyo (dried gourd), cucumber, rolled omelet (tamagoyaki), eels, sakura denbu (sweet fish powder), and seasoned koyadofu (freeze-dried tofu). There’s yet another Ehomaki with 12 ingredients known as lunker ehomaki, which is also eaten during Setsubun for extra luck and fortune.


Image Courtesy: Yuri Samoilov used under the Creative Commons Licence

These ingredients are symbolic of good health, happiness, and prosperity and the underlying metaphor of the roll is that all the good fortune is rolled into one. The Japanese eat these rolls without a pause and avoid making conversation while eating as it gives them ample time to make a wish, while facing the auspicious direction and hope for good luck and health.

The throwing of beans also has significance; people eat a couple of them and throw it out in front of their house while saying “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which means, “Oni (evil) out, good fortune in!”. It is also a sign of ringing in spring and saying goodbye to winter which is symbolic to moving on with life leaving the past behind.

If you are visiting Japan and want to eat an Ehomaki, or if you wanna prepare it yourself, here is our Ehomaki Sushi Rolls recipe. Well, we wish that good luck just follows you with it.

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