The meaning of New Year’s food in Japan Tet in Japan is a time for families to gather around a kotatsu heating table, eat mikan oranges and watch Tet programs on TV. The Japanese have a very interesting tradition at the beginning of the new year, which is to eat a variety of traditional dishes on New Year’s Day to express gratitude and wish for a happy and prosperous new year (osechi ryori). Japan eats on New Year’s Day, which features a variety of colorful dishes packaged in special boxes called jubako. Because the Japanese consider New Year’s Day to be a time of rest, they do not cook on this day, osechi ryori dishes are prepared before New Year’s Eve. Dishes that are fried or include a lot of sugar or vinegar in order to preserve them from spoiling and prepare enough for a few days.
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Osechi ryori is the most important meal of the year for the Japanese, each dish has its own symbolic meaning. The dish is even enjoyed in its own way using chopsticks that are round at both ends; one side for users, one side for god.1. Kuromame, black bean bung (soaked in sugar and soy sauce)In Japanese, the word for bean, “mame,” is similar to the word “hardworking and healthy.” Japanese people eat this dish on New Year’s Eve to wish for good health in the coming year.
2. Kazunoko, herring roe Herring roe symbolizes a bountiful harvest and prosperity.
3. Tazukuri, dried sardine fish soaked in sugar and soy sauce Tazukuri literally translates to bring about a bountiful rice crop, and this New Year’s dish is meant to bring in a bountiful harvest.
4. Goubo, Burdock Root (Infused with Sesame or Vinegar) Because burdock root grows deep underground and also represents a year of prosperity, eating this dish at the beginning of the new year, people Japan wishes for a happy year and bountiful crops.
5. Datemaki sweet fried egg rolls with shrimp and fish in Japanese style Datemaki represents wisdom and culture.
6. Kouhaku kamaboko, Japanese-style fish cake The shape of kamakobo is said to resemble the first sunrise of the new year. Also, the pink (red) and white colors of kamaboko are auspicious because red is believed to be a good luck charm against evil and white symbolizes purity.
7. Kuri kinton, a mixture of chestnuts and mashed sweet potatoes The word “kinton” means yellow dumplings and represents gold and silver. Eat kuri kinton on New Year’s Eve, hoping for a more prosperous business next year.
8. Yakizakana, grilled fish Grilled fish is said to symbolize a successful career and advancement. Some fish species have their own special meaning. For example, sea bream symbolizes happiness and eel symbolizes rapid career advancement.
9. Ebi, shrimp Because shrimp have long antennae and curved body (like the bent back of the elderly), shrimp is a symbol of longevity. Shrimps also symbolize renewed life because shrimp also change their shells.
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10. Subasu, white vinegar lotus root The lotus root, with many holes, symbolizes an unimpeded future.
11. Kouhaku namasu, radishes and carrots soaked in white and red vinegar This represents mizuhiki, small colorful decorative strings made of rice flour paper that are given as gifts on special occasions. Red and white are the main colors in osechi dishes, symbolizing auspicious omens.
12. Konbu Maki, dried herring wrapped in seaweed The word “konbu” is a play on words, meaning “happiness”. Similar to the Datemaki egg roll, the image of Konbu Maki represents wisdom and culture.
13. Satoimo, taro Taro A taro plant has many roots and represents a wish for children on the occasion of the new year.
14. Kuwai (roots of jasmine) The plant begins to sprout with only one root, which is a good sign. Vegetable bud also symbolizes a successful career.
15. Surume, dried ink Dried squid is also a symbol of honor.
16. Nishiki tamago, Eggs 2 colors Boiled eggs are separated, drained and sieved thoroughly and mixed with sugar and salt. The yolks and whites are then poured into molds and steamed over low heat. The striking bright yellow and white of the two-color eggs are a New Year’s staple.
17. Hoshigaki, dried persimmon Because the skin of the dried persimmon represents the wrinkled skin of the elderly, dried persimmons are eaten with the wish of a long life.
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18. Daidai, Japanese Bitter Orange The word, “dai dai” also means “from generation to generation.” The Japanese bitter orange symbolizes a wish for children on the occasion of the new year.