On February 3rd, people in Japan celebrate Setsubun which is supposedly the coming of spring, this firstly was astonishing, calling this weather/season the start of spring is complete madness, we are yet to face the coldest/ snowiest month. But I suppose there are other areas of Japan to think about that are not buried in blankets of white. I hope they appreciate their begining of spring as much as I will in a few months time.
It is also known as Mamemaki festival. After dinner families throw roasted soy beans out the front door of their houses to cast out demons (oni), disease and bad fortune and welcome spring with a new year of good fortune. You are supposed to count the same amount of beans to your age while hoping for good health and happiness.
As you are throwing your beans you shout “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” which means “Oni (devil) out, good fortune in!”
In one region of Japan, they say something like “Oni‘s eyeballs — SMASH! SMASH!” I like that one a lot!
Special sushi rolls called Eho-maki (fortune rolls) are eaten while facing the good fortune direction which changes every year, this year it is south-east. The proper way to eat this dinner is to face the good direction and eat the entire sushi roll without stopping. Don’t talk, just monch and make your wish. Some rolls are really huge, I wonder how people manage them in one go. Eho Maki are futo-maki (thick sushi rolls) that are related to the Seven Deities of Good fortune, seven fillings are traditionally rolled into the sushi roll. Variations can include shiitake mushrooms, cucumber, rolled omelet, eels, sakura denbu( pink sweet powder), and seasoned dried tofu. These ingredients represent good health, happiness and prosperity. Usually sushi rolls are sliced into bite-sized pieces but fortune rolls I hear shouldn’t be sliced since slicing indicates cutting good fortune. Looks like me and Atsushi’s fortune was cut last night, but after several previous courses I was kinda glad they didn’t give me a huge wopper roll!
The sashimi plate last night was one of the most beautiful Iv seen it was presented on a huge shell of one of the fish we ate. Pretty mean not only killing and eating the fish but robbing its house too.
So the white piece on the plate is really odd, slimy and kind of chalky at the same time,not a personal favorite. Eventually remembered the name last night and googled it this morning ‘Ankou’ is a horrendously ugly thick flat deep sea fish. Could not believe my eyes and my stomach turned a bit too.
The ‘Ganmodoki’ I was told was a fish cake but in fact after some googling I found out it is a fried tofu fritter made with vegetables, egg white and sesame seeds. “Ganmodoki” means “pseudo-goose.” This is because ganmodoki is said to taste like goose. Tasted amazing that’s what it did. Came served with ‘Takenoko’ which is tasty crunchy tender baby bamboo which bizarely has a slight chocolate flavor to it.
Got more of the ‘Shirako’ which is the most terrifying to date. In Japanese cuisine, the milt (shirako ‘white children’) of cod, anglerfish and pufferfish are a delicacy so when it arrives I should be overjoyed but it looks like a brain and is just so strange and difficult to for me to swallow so has slightly the opposite effect to my emotions.