Around O-shogatsu, a few Japanese New Year specialties…


Mochi is Japanese New Year and Japanese New Year is mochi.
These blocks of pounded sticky rice are made in this season and used as a decoration and as food.

mochi 101
my display of kagami mochi

A soup is made with mochi. There are many very different regional or familial recipes, many lovely original ingredients…

O-zoni (mochi soup), colorful
O-zoni, Kyoto style

Noodles eaten to pass the year and symbolize continuity.

toshikiri soba (2011, explanation)
toshikiri soba (2012)
toshikiri soba (2012)

Osechi Ryori, New-Year good luck dishes are old style dishes whose names, colors or shapes are linked with good things. Most of it is prepared a few days in advance with many different ingredients and displayed in big lacquer boxes.

Here is an example of home-made full menu :

the lacquer box
the Osechi menu 2011
kuri kinton
kuro mame
Osechi 1 : kazu no ko
Osechi 2 : kintoki ninjin and daikon for namasu
Osechi 3 : building a rice paddy
Osechi 4 : kohaku kamaboko fish cakes
Osechi 5 : chicken matsukaze
Osechi 6 : the vegetable box
Osechi 7 : tamago mosaic
omedetai, lucky grilled fish

Tai-meshi, a meal with Osechi leftovers

A tradition for January 7th

7 herb day
nanagusa okayu (7th day soup)

Little New-Year, women’ New Year… it’s a little forgotten.

okayu for Koshogatsu

And to finish with the mochi :

breaking the New Year mochi (done around January 15th)

Joyeux Noël !!! Already opening boxes…

Whatever you do or don’t, I hope you will all enjoy the Réveillon Xmas Eve of the longest night of the year…

I’ve got new layer lacquered boxes (jubako) for the traditional Japanese New year food, or other occasions. I have not cleaned them yet, just back from the store.

Tadada… 2 wide trays.

Fans and flower. Peonies ?

Oh, that’s a garden.

Well, very classic. You can see many in this style.

This is more interesting. I was not sure there was not a mistake on the price tag… I got both, the 2 boxes for the price of coffee in a papercup at Crapbuck. It’s a recycle shop where everything still new in the box is super-cheap, and without the box that’s like that, given for one coin. 500 yen. It’s somewhere between 1/10th and 1/100th of new boxes in the nearby shops.

There is still the quality check ticket and indication it’s urushi (lacquerware). It seems to be of quality ? I can’t tell, I am a Beotian. I find it very stylish.

It’s not black but full of sparkles.
Cherry blossoms !

Japanese New-Year count down (-10)

10 ten day left this year. Let’s talk about Japanese End of the Year and New Year traditions.

There are casual parties : Bonenkai (funerals of old year) and Shinnenkai (baby shower of new year) when all groups in society gather for a dinner. That’s for friends, people that go to a same class/club for hobby, school mates or alumni, coworkers, etc… All have a gathering over the 2 months

December and January. But there are no special tradition.
31rd december eve and the first days of the year are the contrary. That’s the the Japan of 1000 years that suddenly reappears. They don’t turn off the neons… but nearly.
Osechi Ryori (good luck cuisine) is bizarre for foreigners. It is also unusual for Japanese people. It’s as if you were having a Middle-Age style meal of your own culture. Many don’t like it at all. Many love it for its originality. Others are not fans but like maintaining traditions.

On January first, the jubako boxes get out the closet :

See more.

But days before, people have started filling them. With many goodies. Let’s start with the hen or the eggs ?
EGGS ! This one is very easy to cook and the taste should please most :


Tamago, the egg is full of promise for the New Year….

Read more.

Unaju, ritzy unagi box

Unagi, Japanese eel. Jubako, the nice lacquer boxes. Una-ju. It’s the dressed up eel on rice meal. It’s very chic to eat in those boxes… compared to your plastic bento. That’s a dish served by the high end unagi restaurants. Well, surely theirs are often better…

Eel is often eaten in hot season because it’s very nutritive and still easy to eat and digest. Having some helps you feel better in hot humidity.

Koshikari rice, flavored with kabayaki sauce.

Flambeed reheated kabayaki unagi.

With sansho


Suimono, broth with fresh wakame seaweed and sesame.

Tsukemono, salted turnip.

Home-made duo : zaru-doufu and yuzu koshio.

Making yuzu kosho
making zaru tofu

A full menu for a hot day. Really delicious.

Guess what is in that box…

Countless people have made a weird face when they opened a preciously wrapped present from Japanese people and only found an empty black plastic box… Not a funny joke. Well plastic bento boxes exist, I have some too, but your present my well be a nice lacquer box.

They are luxury items, of the finest Japanese handicraft. Wooden boxes, painted with many layers of lacquer (urushi) and then decorated with fine patterns. They are also very delicate. If the air is too dry, they get splints. That’s the vessel for great occasions… Mine has an Autumn pattern. But it’s the only authentic one I have, so I use it for New Year.

The inside is always red, it seems. I’ll show you it full soon. Don’t worry.

Not easy to photography. It shines like a mirror, you can see my street in the reflect…

To discover the content :

Osechi ryori compilation

I got more boxes (click here):