Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu, Happy New Year!

Posted on Dec 31, 2008 in Hiroko's Blog

This is what you enjoy in Japan when you wake up on January 1st and for the following two days. This is Osechi ryori, the New Year’s feast that has been diligently prepared during the final week of December. The photos shown here are dishes that were prepared by my sister, Keiko Arakawa in Tokyo, Japan.

Each food item in its own compartment in a beautiful lacquerware box has its own reason to appear in the New Year’s meal. Take a look at some of these examples! Kazunoko (herring roe) – salt-cured herring roe consists of hundreds of tiny eggs stuck together in one firm, long piece, covered with a very thin membrane. The size of herring roe is about 4 inches long. It is golden yellow in color and creates sharp noisy crunchiness in the mouth. The large number of tiny eggs symbolizes “family prosperity”. The birth rate in Japan is sharply decreasing. We better to eat more herring roe…Tazukuri (baby sardine) – Looking at these small fish on the plate, tiny, glittering, with black eyes staring at you, you may feel a bit threatened. Well, for us, these fish bring good luck and are an excellent source of calcium as well. Osechi ryori was once prepared at each home using the help of all female members of the family including grand-ma and daughters. Today as the number of multi-generational families is much reduced, the preparation of Osechi ryori, which requires considerable labor, time and money, is being shunned. Now famous restaurants cater their Osechi ryori to large department stores for devoted customers (prices can go up to $3,000) and many food companies sell reasonably priced, pre-made and pre-packed varieties at local supermarkets. No matter how you start the New Year with or without Osechi ryori I wish you a happy healthy 2009!