TOKYO, Feb 9 — A Japanese tradition of eating a large sushi roll in silence while facing a pre-determined celestial direction to usher in good luck for the year this week drove the term “Lucky Direction” to the top of Google’s rising food and drink searches.
As at 10am GMT February 8, the Japanese term for “Lucky Direction” rolls had a 1,050 per cent growth on Google over the past seven days to become the most popular rising search term. The tradition was celebrated on February 3 across Japan.
Legend has it that the ritual of eating the long, uncut rolls of sushi — filled with everything from eel, eggs, radish, cucumbers and other assorted vegetables — started in the city of Osaka where men would make sport out of watching prostitutes eat the rolls. Others say the tradition took off in the latter half of the century when food vendors started sushi-eating contests as a marketing ploy.
It’s a strategy that convenience store chain 7-Eleven has been widely associated with, helping to turn a small tradition into a nationwide phenomenon: the observance of Lucky Direction Rolls is a fairly recent ritual that really started taking off in the late 1990s.
In order to usher in good fortune and exorcise the future of past evils and demons, eaters are to bite into the large rolls — also known as Ehomaki or Futomaki — and chew in silence while facing a particular direction as set out by the zodiac and “lucky compass”. This year, the direction was north by northwest.
Meanwhile, another food tradition over in France drove different variations of the word “crepe” into the top 10 rising search terms in the food and drink category, as the country celebrated the Catholic holiday of Candlemas or Le Chandeleur on February 2.
The holiday commemorates the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary 40 days after the birth of Jesus, as well as the ritual presentation of baby Jesus to the temple.
For secular French, however, February 2 is known simply as jour des crêpes or crêpes day.
In tandem with Groundhog Day in North America, crêpes day can also be used to predict prosperity for the year. To do so, the crêpe thrower must hold the pan in their non-writing hand, flip the flat pancake into the air and catch it safely back in the pan. Success means the family will enjoy a prosperous year.
Below are the top rising search terms in the food and drinks category for the week ending February 8:
1. 恵方 (Japanese: Lucky Direction) +1,050 per cent
2. 恵方巻き (Japanese: Lucky Direction Roll) +1,000 per cent
3. buffalo chicken dip +450 per cent
4. pate a crêpe +180 per cent
5. recette crêpe +130 per cent
6. sube (Argentinian transportation site) +100 per cent
7. crêpes +90 per cent
8. buffalo wild wings +70 per cent
9. chili recipe +70 per cent
10. バレンタイン (Japanese: Valentine) +80 per cent — Relaxnews