Japanese new year cuisine

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Osechi

osechi

It is customary for Japanese to eat a special selection of dishes called ‘osechi’ during the New Year celebration.This old custom of dining in Japan was started way back in Heian era between 794 and 1185. The first day of the New Year is very much important and auspicious to Japanese people. Symbolizing and celebrating the very beginning of the New Year, the day should be full of joy and happiness without any stress, conflict or anger. No work is to be done by anyone including cleaning, cooking, and other household affairs particularly for the first three days of the New Year.

That’s why osechi or special New Year cuisine had been developed in order for housewives and kitchen staff to enjoy the festivities fully. Most osechi items can be stored without refrigeration lasting at least three days or so during the New Year festivities.

Colorful New Year dishes are prepared and packed in multitiered boxes, popularly called as “jubako”. Each dish and ingredient in osechi has meaning including well-being, fertility, good harvest, happiness and longevity. The osechi dishes cooked and eaten at Japanese homes differ from region to region. While each household used to prepare its own osechi, nowadays a growing number of Japanese homes buy ready-made osechi dishes instead of cooking them at home. It is time-consuming to cook so many kinds of dishes. Nowadays many restaurants, department stores or convenience stores offer a wide variety of osechi to make it a truly work-free New Year.

As mentioned above, Osechi differs from region to region, household to household, but in general it is associated with health, happiness, a good harvest, etc. and much of the food has special meanings. For example, tai (sea bream) is associated with medetai, meaning joyous or auspicious. Konbu (kelp) is almost found in yorokobu, meaning to be glad or happy about. Kazunoko (prepared herring roe) is for the hope of having many children.

You can enjoy and experience such Japanese food with such tradition and atmosphere at Japanese supermarkets.

(Tomoko Moriyama)

>> Marukai Pacific Square Market
>>NIjiya Torrance
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