Happy Belated Setsubun no hi!

Did you know that demons like beans?  Friday was Setsubun no hi (pronounced: set-sue-boon-no-hie), which is the day before spring begins.  It’s a traditional Japanese holiday that was introduced by the Chinese a long time ago and has roots in the Lunar New Year, which is why the Japanese use this holiday to dispel evil spirits and invite good luck (similar to New Years holiday in January).

– Soy Beans, a demon’s mask usually worn by children (or me!), and eho-maki –

On Setsubun Day, everyone buys dried soy beans, which they throw around their house, outside their front door, and out of the windows.  The theory is that demons run outside to get these beans, thus luring them out of your house while good spirits come inside.

– My eho-maki –

In Osaka, the local people there have an additional tradition of eating a whole, uncut eho-maki, a sushi roll filled with different ingredients.  This year, mine has egg, shiitake mushrooms, eel, and marinated dried daikon, but eho-maki can be filled with many different ingredients.  Each member of the family gets their own whole roll, and you should eat it facing towards the yearly lucky direction.  This year, that direction is NNW.  Once you start eating, no one can speak until they completely finish their roll.  Let me tell you – it’s not an easy task.  These rolls are huge!  Both my husband and I couldn’t finish our rolls so technically, we’re not allowed to talk all year.  Although the tradition of eho-maki started in Osaka, it’s been promoted by stores across Japan so you can now find these rolls in depachika, supermarkets, and convenience stores everywhere.  They run about 400 yen each, but it’s half price if you get it at the end of the day!

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