When the word meditation is said, we imagine monks in Zen concentration, or ourselves in a deep forest, quiet, where only the trees rustle slightly, or we are on a seashore and waves as if pass through our bodies – to us from us and again and again. What would you say if I offer you a meditation your mouth filled with sushi? Surely you will be surprised, amazed. Yes, eating the Ehoumaki sushi roll is meant to be a kind of meditation and prayer. It is almost a national festival, which is also a holiday to welcome spring – Setsubun. I find it funny how the Japanese sometimes create their holidays. They determine the day, the opportunity, design the scene, promote some raw material, entangle the universe and recommend something to pray for. That’s how they did it with Ehoumaki. Businesses that wanted to increase sales of nori seaweed – sushi rice is packed in it – came up with a campaign for a sushi roll, which is not to be cut, because it would be a shame and pity to cut away happiness. It would be no good to cut or break relationships they pointed. And because seven Asian cosmopolitan little Gods for happiness have historically been worshiped in Japan, the businesses have recommended to the producers that seven different goodies be put into the roll. When you have Gods, you are tempted asking them for a favor. And where are the gods? Who knows, but it’s good to look for them. Therefore, a happy direction is appointed to Ehoumaki every year, and those who push the uncut roll in their mouths, they stare toward that direction intently and with concentration. The beautiful thing is that people have a reason to get together, meet and enjoy each other. And it doesn’t matter that Ehoumaki eating is sublimely called meditation. To make it look like meditation, it is recommended that the very act be surrounded by silence.
From meditation to opulence
But, it’s hard to be quiet when it’s so ridiculous and funny seeing people their mouths stuffed with sushi. Eaters can’t even breathe properly, because it is not allowed to take the roll away from their mouths. Inside the mouth, one must not only bite smoothly, but also process and swallow the material. Some suffocate, others do better. There is always someone can’t stand it and bursts out laughing. And as is well known, laughter is contagious. No wonder, then, that the meditation session of prayer for good health, wealth, and prosperity soon developed into savage feasts escalated by the abundance of alcohol. Of course, there are also competitions – the fastest eater wins. I certainly wouldn’t sign up, but it must be fun. In any case, the need for rolls on that one day of the year is so great that people must order Ehoumaki long in advance. It’s a big business. Originally, Ehoumaki offered cheap supermarkets that are open 24 hours a day, have something from everything and are very convenient. But luxury sellers did not stay aside. They are the same active now. The most expensive roll on offer, as far as I know, was for 15,000 Yen, which is 3,000 CZK. Would you buy? True, it contained delicacies such as the highest quality lobster, sea urchin from the best locality or rare fish eggs. Even fugu fish. The question is whether it is possible to enjoy the goodies when you work for survival while eating that way. Such extra opulent Ehoumaki can be wrapped in beautiful nori, gilded and often with artistic decoration. I don’t know what a pleasure it is to swallow for instance a dragon into myself, but I don’t care and do not want to do so.
Ehoumaki party from Miyabi
Nevertheless fun does not need to cost much, especially when you let your imagination run wild. The day when Ehoumaki is eaten should be different from all days of the year. For example, men can wear a wig or even women’s clothing. Conversely, women make themselves men. Extravagance is allowed, even for geishas. They celebrate this holiday with especial attention. The holiday simply has many faces. It is celebrated in Buddhist and Shinto temples, in families, in schools and in recent decades mainly in restaurants. Even in Miyabi, I offer Ehoumaki every year. We even have our Ehoumaki painting by Veronika Vlková. I’m not passing this year either. Maybe you tasted a roll of Miyabi, which eats like a hot dog. In one blog. We had them at outdoor events, for example in the Troja Botanical Garden. But we cut it half. On Tuesday, February 2, you will have opportunity to buy very honest Ehoumaki from whole piece of nori in Miyabi. Thick as they should be with the seven fillings. One vege version and one more flashy with unagi eel.
Three rules of Ehoumaki in Tea ceremony
Our Ehoumaki party will be fun, I promise, and will be also meditative. If we can’t possibly meditate in the eating process of Ehoumaki (please make your Ehoumaki ready), we will certainly be able to meditate during the Tea ceremony that will follow. From a Zen house in Miyabi. One more thing – have also roasted beans ready. Not for eating, but for throwing. Not to each other, but toward imaginary devils. On the holiday of Setsubun, which is the welcome of spring, when something new and clean comes, it is necessary to treat the bad from the past. In Japan, they have beans for it. You throw beans and drive evil out the door and to make it even more exciting people shout: “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! ” Oni are devils. Fuku is lucky. Soto is out and uchi is inside. Who wouldn’t want to lure luck into a house? I do. Without superstition, just with a simple wish that we all manage well.
Let me remind you, what the happy direction this year is. It’s South Southeast. Will you join and bite happiness for yourself while eating the whole roll – marukaburi – even if it will be difficult? If you want to drink a traditional sake, grate some fresh ginger into it. You will not get cold and you will definitely not avoid happiness but bring in. So remember the three rules of Ehoumaki:
do not cut relationships
go in the right direction and
remember that silence is vital
Yours, Miyabi Darja