While the chilly temperature and common sense may suggest otherwise, February 3 traditionally marks the start of spring in Japan. Known as Setsubun (literally ‘seasonal division’), the day is marked with a spiritual kind of spring cleaning. Its most famous ritual is mamemaki, in which people drive evil spirits from their homes by throwing soybeans out the door (or at a family member dressed as a demon) and shouting Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (Demons out! Good luck in!).
The ritual is repeated on a larger scale at many temples and shrines around town, usually with a sizeable celebrity contingent on hand to scatter that soy. It’s then customary to eat a fat roll of makizushi while facing in the year’s lucky direction – hence the dish’s name, eho-maki (‘lucky direction roll’). These rolls are sold at pretty much every supermarket and convenience store out there. Interested? Here’s where you can throw some beans.