On New Year’s Day in Japan, it is common to celebrate by eating osechi ryori, the traditional Japanese New Year cuisine. Usually packaged in beautiful lacquered boxes (called jubako) that resemble stackable Japanese bento boxes, osechi ryori consists of many types of symbolic Japanese foods. Each food has a special meaning and eating them is supposed to bode well for the new year, representing wishes for good luck, wealth, health, and more!
One symbolic osechi ryori dish is kuromame, sweetened black soy beans. “Mame” means “bean” but also has a second meaning: “to work diligently.” Kuromame also represents good health in the new year. Another osechi dish, consisting of mashed candied chestnuts and sweet potatoes, is called kurikinton, which translates to “chestnut gold mash.” It represents prosperity and wealth. Datemaki is an osechi ryori dish which is quite similar to the rolled omelet, tamagoyaki, except it contains hanpen (a type of fish cake) in addition to eggs. Since datemaki is rolled into a scroll-like shape, it represents education and learning. And for couples, the osechi ryori dish called kazunoko (herring roe) represents fertility and children. There are many more types of osechi ryori, each with their own significance and meaning, which you can learn about in some of the osechi ryori experiences below!
Why not ring in the new year by joining an osechi ryori cooking class or going on a Japanese New Year themed food tour? After enjoying osechi ryori, you’re sure to be blessed with a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!