Setsubun Ehomaki


Ehomaki Sushi Roll (ehoomaki)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Late winter
***** Category: Humanity


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ehoomaki 恵方巻き ehomaki roll, eho-maki, "fortune roll" fortune rolls
Rolled sushi for the setsubun festival on February 3, eaten in the evening, with closed eyes, in silence, one roll making a wish, facing the auspicious direction of the new year.

marukaburizushi 丸かぶりずし sushi eaten in one go
marukajiri まるかじり in the Kinki area.

ehoozushi 恵方寿司 Sushi for the auspicious direction

With seven auspicious ingredients for the seven gods of good luck:
oboro denbu (pink), egg roll or datemaki, cucumber, kanpyoo stripes, Kooyadoofu, anago or eal, shiitake mushrooms. All the good luck and good fortune is rolled up (maki) in this sushi.

A Chinese roll of this type is often made with eight ingredients, for the eight Chinese gods of good luck 八福神.

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Sometimes the roll is made with 12 ingredients, usually eaten at the Setsubun festival on February 3.

Legend says when Toyotomi Hideyoshi was fighting for the rulership of Japan, one of his samurai, Horio Yoshiharu 堀尾 吉晴 ate a rolled sushi (makizushi) on the evening before the battle and then the warriors won the battle. So now it is eaten to bring good luck when driving out the demons of Setsubun.

Others say it comes from Osaka and the Kansai area, where rolled sushi was eaten hoping for prosperity in the coming year.

The store Hisagozushi in Kyoto also prepares a roll with the egg outside and the imprint of a demon on it.

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and here is the ONIMAKI 鬼巻 demon's roll
sold only on February 3.

source : www.hisagozusi.co.jp

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In the town of Yakake 矢掛, Okayama, they prepare a large roll of about 730 grams of rice ! called
Daimyoomaki, daimyo maki 恵方大名巻き The Lord's roll

Clever bakeries in Okayama make an auspicious roll with sponge cake in green color from powdered tea and roll fruit of the season and whipped cream inside.
ehoomaki rooru 恵方巻きロール roll cake for the auspicious direction
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Sushi-Rolle für die glückverheißende Himmelsrichtung


Setsubun was the last day of winter and thus also the eve of the beginning of spring and the New Year according to the old lunar calendar.

EHOO, the auspicious direction of the Year

According to ancient Asian lore, the new year comes with a new deity, the "God/Godess of the Year" toshi toku jin (Toshitokujin) 歳德神. This is part of the Yin-Yang Theory of China, called "onmyoodoo 陰陽道" in Japanese.
He is celebrated in a part of the estate which shows to the auspicious direction of this year (ehoo 恵方). People erect a small shelf with sacred decorations for the purpose and pray for a boutifull harvest and good luck as farmers.

MORE in the WKD :
God of the Year (toshi toku jin)
and the auspicious direction EHOO

Things related to EHOO are kigo of the New Year.


Ehoosha 恵方社 Eho Shrine, Ehosha Shrine

This is the only shrine in Japan which changes its direction every year, so the visitors can bow toward the auspicious direction of the new year.
The priests come to turn the upper stone on a special device to change the direction.

In the park Shinsen-En 神泉苑, Kyoto


Driving away the demons
with bow and arrow

Bags of beans are sold at the shrines Yoshida Jinja 吉田神社, Heian Jingu 平安神宮 and others to throw at the demons.
At Yoshida shrine, a blue, red and yellow demon are driven out with bow and arrow on the day before setsubun in front of many spectators. The event starts after 6 in the evening. A demon queller, called Hoosooshi 方相氏(ほうそうし) appears with arms, then people on the stage shoot magic arrows (魔力を封じる弓矢) to ban them completely. The demons leave crying loudely as the children cheer them out.

Kindergardens and other facilities also have events driving out the demons with toy bows and arrows.

source : kyoto shinbun, 2009


Eight gods of good luck, including Daruma 八福神

CLICK for original LINK ... iiiro.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

hiiragi sasu 柊挿す (ひいらぎさす) piercing with a holly
kigo for late winter

iwashi no kashira sasu 鰯の頭挿す(いわしのかしらさす)
piercing the head of a sardine
mamegara sasu 豆殻挿す(まめがらさす)piercing bean shells

hiiragi uri 柊売(ひいらぎうり)seller of holly branches

yaikagashi やいかがし、yokkagashi よつかがし
metsuki shiba目突柴(めつきしば)

oni no mesashi 鬼の目さし(おにのめさし)
piercing the eyes of a demon

Holly and Sardine Head (hiiragi iwashi 柊鰯)CLICK for more photos

You pierce the head and eat the sardine !
The holly branch with the fish head is placed outside of the front door to ward off evil influence and keep you healthy. The demons do not like the smell of this fish and keep off. Demons also fear the sharp needles of the holly pierce their eyes, so both together are a powerful talisman. This custom is more common in the Kansai area.

. akaiwashi uri 赤鰯売り selling "red iwashi sardines" .
. . . . .

oni no mesashi might point to the Chinese custom of piercing one eye of a person and make him a slave.

facebook : Mariko Shimizu


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hiiragi no hana 柊の花 (ひいらぎのはな)
flowers of the holly

Osmanthus heterophyllus
kigo for early winter

hiiragi no ha no aida yori hana kobore

between the leaves
of the holly tree
some flowers

Takahama Kyoshi 高浜虚子

Holly Tree (Ilex family) KIGO

. Mezashi 目刺 "pierced eyes", dried sardines


iwashi no atama yaki イワシの頭焼き (yakigashi 焼嗅がし)
grilling 1000 sardine heads, the Sumiyoshi shrine 住吉神社 in Hiroshima
***** Iwashi sardines 鰯 (いわし) KIGO


ehoo maki tabete fuku nara ikutsu demo

sushi roll for the auspicious direction ...
if this brings good luck
I will eat as many as it takes



oni yoke no roonin yoke no sashi hiragi

protection from demons
and wild samurai...
lucky holly

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 .

Related words

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..... Setsubun Festival 節分 (February 3)

***** WASHOKU ... Japanese Food SAIJIKI





Gabi Greve said...


hoshizora ni daishô wa naku hi’iragi sasu

stars in the sky
no difference in sizes
a holly branch at the gate

Hoshino Takashi 星野高士

Tr. Fay Aoyagi

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

me 鬼の目, 鬼の眼 / medama 鬼の目玉 - 伝説 
Demon Legends about the eyes and eyeballs

The hiiragi branch is called
oni no mesashi 鬼の目さし piercing of the demon's eyes.
They hang a branch on the 鬼門の窓 window of the Kimon side of the house.

The same custom is observed in other parts of Japan, for example in 枚方市 Hirakata , Osaka.

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

ashi no muku mura ga warera ga ehoo kana

we follow our feet
to the village...
our New Year's walk

This haiku refers to the New Year's custom of visiting a shrine or temple located in a lucky direction. Ironically, Issa and his cohorts are heading for a village and (I assume) its tavern.
David Lanoue

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

.... Mie 三重県 
一志郡 Ichishi district 美杉村 Misugi

For the Setsubun ritual (the former New Year ritual), people used to put out a holly branch with the head of a sardine to ward off the Oni.
When making a Kadomatsu, they used two strong stakes, a bamboo basket with many "eyes", a black pot hanger and a branch of hiiragi 柊 holly. The beans for throwing had to be roasted very well.