The 2017 Father of the Year Award goes to…
If you can afford this luxury lucky sushi roll, how much luck do you really need?
We try out an exquisite gilded sushi roll, inexplicably packaged in cheap plastic.
The following story is an important example of how one person’s holiday cheer can be another’s form of abuse in the workplace.
February is a hard month to face, so why not put on a mask and greet it looking like something else?
Japan has a custom of shouting “Out with the demons!” in early February, but all we can say is “Awwwwwww!”
Ehomaki “lucky sushi rolls” are a big part of Setsubun—the changing of the seasons festival. So big, in fact, that some convenience stores appear to be losing their minds in an effort to sell more rolls than the competition.
If Sunkus’ Red-Oni-Pants-Lookin’ Bread and Pom Pom Purin’s Purin Purin! Butt Cakes are any indication, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for baked goods.
Let’s see what tempting (and pricey) Ehomaki rolls are on offer at Tobu Ikebukuro Department Store this year to celebrate the coming of spring on Setsubun day.
While North America has its silly Groundhog’s Day festivities on February 2, Japan counters with even sillier Setsubun celebrations on February 3.
Festivities take place at temples, shrines and family homes. Usually the oldest male in the house puts on an oni (ogre or demon) mask and the rest of the people throw fukumame, literally “fortune beans” but really just dried soy beans, at them, then slam the door in the oni‘s big red face, while shouting “Demons out! Luck in!” to ceremonially expel demons from their homes and welcome good fortune for the coming year.
Some Japanese dog owners altered the celebrations a little this year, making their dogs the oni and thus creating the cutest little “demons” you’ll ever see.
Before you start obsessing over Valentine’s Day plans, let’s turn for a moment to another February whoop-de-do: the Japanese Bean-Throwing Festival or Setsubun. Celebrated on February 3 this year, it’s an intriguing blend of evil ogres and spirits, roasted soybeans, and chomping on a whole baton of thickly rolled sushi while facing in the proper direction. These somewhat disparate ingredients commingle on this day to assure good fortune and health for the year to come.
In recent years, western Japan’s custom of eating a special type of sushi called ehō-maki (恵方巻き, literally “blessed direction roll”) for Setsubun has spread across the nation due to marketing campaigns by grocery and convenience stores; what’s more, the sushi rolls have been evolving into scrumptious cream-filled Swiss rolls! Iconoclastic? Maybe. Delicious? Yes!
So let’s jump on the bandwagon and look into this holiday a bit before drooling over this collection of sushi and their sweet doppelgängers. And Yowapeda fans, I think I spy a Makishima-maki!
Despite being centuries-old, the core traditions of Setsubun can seem as silly as its common English rendering, The Bean-Throwing Festival. Once a year in early February, households across Japan toss roasted soybeans outside their doors, with folklore saying the practice will ensure prosperity for the next 12 months by driving off the ogre-like creatures called oni.
Perhaps the oddest thing is the way the oni are depicted in illustrations and popular culture. Generally obese and clumsy, they seem to present little if any threat, and the fact that they can be undone by a scattering of legumes doesn’t do anything to help them win street cred, either.
But what if the oni improved their eating habits and started hitting the gym? Would that make them terrifying once again? Maybe, but it also just might make them dead sexy, as shown in this stylish Japanese ad.
Even if you don’t speak Japanese, if you’re a sushi lover, you’ve probably heard some of the language’s fish-based vocabulary. Maguro is pretty readily understood as “tuna” among foodies with a palate for Japanese cuisine, and many people who can’t put together a complete sentence in Japanese still know that uni is sea urchin, for example.
Not as many non-Japanese speaking diners are as familiar with the word iwashi, or sardine, though. Although sardine sushi isn’t unheard of, it definitely trails in popularity behind less fishy-tasting fare, and its relatively low price and humble image mean it doesn’t have the same level of pizazz as a seaweed-wrapped pile of ikura (salmon roe) or a glistening cut of otoro (extra fatty tuna belly).
Visual impact isn’t a problem, though, for one Japanese restaurant chain’s latest creation: the Whole Sardine Sushi Roll.
As we learned a few days ago, 3 February is the traditional holiday of Setsubun in Japan. Although its customs vary from region to region, most people who celebrate the occasion enjoy the practice of throwing beans to expel evil from their homes. The Shibamata Taishakuten temple in Katsuhika, Tokyo must have had some industrial strength evil in their area this year because they brought in OCP’s future of oni-fighting, Robocop, to toss some beans.
When you really think about them, even the traditions and practices that we each grew up with and seem perfectly normal are kind of odd. Easter, once solely the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, now sees us telling children that a benevolent rabbit came in the night to leave them chocolate eggs. Christmas takes us even further into the world of fantasy as kids grow up thinking that a magical man who lives in the North Pole works a team of elves all year round to make presents for them, delivering said gifts across the world in a single night via flying woodland beasts, despite the man himself likely having respiratory problems owing to his XXL frame.
Although Japan doesn’t really do Christmas, it does have a plenty of its own traditions and yearly celebrations, and it just so happens that today is one of them. Setsubun, or the spring bean-throwing festival, sees children yelling at and peppering fictional demons with handfuls of roasted beans, and families sitting down to eat enormous pieces of maki, or roll, sushi, often adhering to peculiar local traditions as they do.