Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year!

As this is my first post this year, I would like to introduce some of the Japanese customs during the New Year’s holidays.

Japanese new year holidays are comparable to Christmas holidays in Western countries. Usually people spend their time with their families, relatives and friends, having special dishes and visit shrines.

In most areas, people eat buckwheat noodles on new year’s eve to wish longevity. January 1st, 2nd and 3rd are called ‘sanganich’. Below, you can find the pictures of special new year’s dishes called ‘osechi’. Traditionally these dishes are prepared by the end of December to welcome the new year’s god (toshi-gami) as well as to enable housewives to relax during these holidays. These dishes are served to the family members, relatives and the guests visiting the houses.

Osechi slightly differ from family to family, region to region. This is the osechi of my parents’.

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First box

  • Upper left: Kuri-kinton (mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chestnuts) – wishing luck with money
  • Right to kuri-kinton: Kuromame (sweetened black beans) -wishing health / diligence
  • Right to kuromame: Konbu-maki (konbu rolls) – wishing longevity
  • Upper right: Nibuta (boiled pork)
  • Middle right: Kamaboko (fish cake)
  • Bottom right: Date-maki (rolled omlet) – one of the most representative dishes for osechi
  • Bottom left: Kinpira-gobo (burdock root and carrot)

Second box

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  • Upper left: Kazunoko (herring roe) – praying for the prosperity of descendants
  • Upper right: Ikura (salmon roe)
  • Middle right: Tazukuri (dried sardines) – praying for a good harvest
  • Bottom: Namasu (daikon and carrot salad)

Third box

Nishime (vegetables and chicken stewed in a soy-flavored broth) – representing good relationship among family members.


Before eating osechi, toso (herb flavored sake) is served. Toso herb bags are available at drug stores before the new year’s holidays. 

Making toso – soak herb bag and sugar (or mirin) in sake and leave over night. 


After eating osechi, special soup with mochi called ‘zoni’ is served. In the Kanto region, we eat square mochi in a trasparent soup with chicken and vegetables.

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2 thoughts on “Happy New Year 2016”

  1. Very interesting post, yours is the first I have found that takes the time to talk about what all the individual parts of the osechi are and what they represent. Thanks for sharing that, I’ve been wondering! 🙂

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