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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.

Setsubun is celebrated each year on the day before the official beginning of spring, usually around February 3 (although the date shifts slightly over time depending on the position of the earth and sun). As Setsubun can be considered a kind of New Year’s Eve for the Lunar New Year, there are several traditions practiced on the day to bring in luck for the new year, including the ritual of mamemaki (which literally means bean scattering), in which roasted soy beans are ceremoniously thrown and scattered while calling for demons to leave and good luck to come in. Another Setsubun custom that has become increasingly popular in recent years is the eating of Ehomaki rolls.

Ehomaki is a thick sushi roll that is supposed to be eaten whole and in total silence on Setsubun Day while facing the lucky direction for that year. While the tradition started in the Osaka area, it has now spread to the extent that many different types of Ehomaki are available from various outlets across the country from convenience stores to high-end department stores.

In fact, the rolls seem to be getting fancier and more creative each year, in some cases using extravagant gourmet ingredients. To give you an idea, we thought we’d share with you some of the more exotic rolls that Tobu Ikebukuro Department Store is offering for Setsubun this year.

The “Ōma Honmaguro Roll” (25,000 yen [US$211.47])

Ehomaki 魚力 本マグロ

It’s well known that the Japanese love tuna (maguro), but this roll contains that most coveted of tuna, honmaguro (bluefin tuna) caught off the fishing port of Ōma in Aomori Prefecture on the northern most tip of Japan’s main island. In addition to 400 grams (14 ounces) of the valuable tuna, the roll also contains green shiso leaf and is sprinkled with pieces of gold leaf. If you’re willing to spend $211 on a sushi roll, then you’ll want to take note that they’ll be selling only 10 of these rolls, so you may have to place your order quickly!

The “Fabulous Packed with Wagyu and Full of Fortune Roll” (20,160 yen [$170.71])

Ehomaki 和牛づくしの満福巻 1

Ehomaki 和牛づくしの満福巻 2

This fabulously meaty roll contains 230 grams (8 ounces) each of Matsuzaka beef and wet aged wagyu beef in the center and is covered on the outside also with 230 grams of roast beef. This is another item that is also limited to a total of 10 orders.

The “Rare Ehomaki Keiji (Fatty Young Salmon) Roll” (8,800 yen [$74.71])

Ehomaki 鮭児巻

This roll is filled with various treasures of the sea including bigeye tuna, soy sauce flavored salmon roe, red sea bream, steamed sea eel and squid, but the most prized ingredient here has to be keiji, the legendary fatty young salmon that is an extremely rare catch. Additionally, the roll contains cooked egg, cucumber and shiso leaf as well.

The “Three Tastes in One Collaboration Roll” (10,800 yen [$91.66])

Ehomaki トリプルコラボ 1

Ehomaki トリプルコラボ 2

This fun Ehomaki gives you three satisfying rolls in one: (1) Matsuzaka beef, (2) Shrimp in chili sauce, Peking Duck, cucumber, leeks and Japanese mustard spinach; and (3) Bluefin tuna, flounder and shiso leaf. It’s certainly an original creation, and it looks perfect if you want to enjoy more than one flavor! This too will be a limited item, as they’ll be selling only 20 of these rolls.

And for those of you with a sweet tooth, don’t worry, they also have tantalizingly sweet Ehomaki rolls too!

The “Kinako (soybean powder) Roll” and “Sweet Red Bean Paste Roll”  (432 yen [$3.67] each)

Ehomaki あんこ巻 きなこ巻

These are sweet rice rolls using Japanese ingredients, one with kinako soybean powder and the other with sweet red bean paste covering the surface. Both rolls contain sweet bean gelatin (yokan) in three flavors: sakura, sweet potato and matcha green tea. If you like ohagi, a traditional Japanese sweet that typically consists of glutinous rice covered with sweet red bean paste, then these rolls should be right up your alley!

The “Premium Ehomaki Fruit Roll” (6,480  yen [$54.98])

Ehomaki プレミアム恵方巻フルーツロール 1

This Ehomaki from famous fruit shop Kyobashi Sembikiya is basically a fruit roll cake, but an incredibly scrumptious one to be sure. The base sponge cake contains brown sugar and is topped with whipped cream, chocolate, and cookies, along with a veritable feast of fruits: Amaou brand strawberry, apple, grape, grapefruit, blueberry, orange and melon. Now, that’s an extravagance only a fruit shop could produce, and as befits a “premium” roll, only 10 of these will be for sale.

So, which one of the rolls did you find most tempting? And if the items we introduced above don’t quite suit your taste, you needn’t worry. Apparently, Tobu Ikebukuro Department Store has close to 100 different Ehomaki rolls on offer, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

May all your Setsubun celebrations be filled with delicious rolls!

Source and photos: Tobu Department Store press release

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Demons, beans, and giant sushi rolls – It could only be Setsubun!