Lost Tradition, Recovered; Kagami-mochi and Matsukazari

Posted on Dec 30, 2011 in Hiroko's Blog

This year I did not forget to do the proper welcoming- the-New-Year decorations at my home. I neglected this tradition for years after moving to America. Very bad. Welcoming-the-New-Year decorations have to be placed on a specific, auspicious and correct day. It is usually on December 28th. No later than this.

Here are the decorations; one is Kagami-mochi (in a room) and the other is Matsukazar (at the entrance door). We do these decorations in order to properly welcome a New Year God. Let me start with Kagami-mochi. My decoration (photo) is a very simple one. I purchased it at a local Japanese foodstore. It is a kind of junky one. The smooth-looking, double-decked, round mochi rice cakes – a small one sits on top of a slightly larger mochi cake – are made of plastic. It should be made of real mochi rice cakes. Inside this plastic case you will find bite-sized mochi rice cake squares packed in a sealed plastick bag.

We believe that the New Year God comes to each house and resides in the mochi cakes. So you have to have the mochi cakes! When January 11th comes, we break the mochi cakes and consumed it in both savory and sweet dishes. Eating mochi rice cake in which the New Year God resided ensures us the prosperity, happpiness and safe life throughout the year.

A citrus fruit which is placed on top of mochi rice cakes is daidai. Another translation of daidai is a long lasting generation, so it has to be here. Unfortunately, mine is a plastic came as a Kagami-mochi decoration kit.