Quest For Japan Logo-Ver7

Osechi: Traditional Japanese New Year’s Food

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/11 Food, Traditional Culture , , ,

“Shin-nen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu”, Happy New Year to everyone!
How did you spend your year end vacation? I guess, everyone is still in their vacation mode.

Did you eat osechi during “sanganichi” (三が日)? How was it? Did you know that each dish has its own meaning and significance? For people who are not familiar with osechi, let me give you a little background about it.

What is (o)sechi?

Osechi juubako - laid outAn inside look of osechi juubako (Photo by nAok0)

(O)sechi is a special variety of dishes prepared during “oomisoka”, a day before the New Year’s Day. It is eaten during “sanganichi”, which starts from the New Year’s day until 3rd of January, at home together with family members. It is believed that using fire is not appropriate during this time when the God of New Year is present. That is why meals to be eaten during sanganichi is prepared beforehand. One of the theories also is the intention to let housewives rest during these days. Since it will be consumed for the span of 3 days, the kind of dishes prepared are those that can last for few days.

Historical background of osechi

(O)sechi is a shortened version of the word “sechinichi”. Sechinichi is the day at every turning point of each season. In the old days, seasonal court banquet is held at the Imperial Court to celebrate the new season. It is believed that this is where the tradition of (o)sechi started. Later on at the end of Edo era, common people also started to adopt this practice and then, it spread through out the country and became a custom. Eventually, only on New Year’s Day, one of the sechinichi and the first big event of the year where Japanese express their wishes for the coming year as well, the custom of eating osechi has remained.

Why osechi is served in a multi-layered box?

Osachi juubakoA three-layer osechi juubako (Photo by midorisyu)

One of the distinctions of osechi is the way it is served. Dishes are placed in a multi-layered box, “juubako” in Japanese. Placing it in layers symbolizes the meaning of piling up prosperity. Aside from that, upper layers serve as a cover of the lower layers which helps in preserving the food longer and also saves up space. The design on the box also serves as a good presentation.

The box is basically composed of 4 layers. Starting from top, it is called 一の重 (ichi no juu), 二の重 (ni no juu), 三の重 (san no juu) and 与の重 (yo no juu). The fourth layer is in different kanji (与) instead of using the kanji character of four (四). This is because 四 has the same sound of the kanji character death, shi (死). Nowadays though, 3-layer juubako is more common.

Although the origin of eating osechi started way back in Heian era, using of juubako to store osechi dishes only began in Edo era. Before that, osechi was served not in a multi-layered box but in plates.

In the next post about osechi, I’ll discuss more about the meaning and significance of each dish.

References:
The meaning behind packing osechi dishes in juubako
Osechi – iroha-japan
Osechi Ryouri – History

The following two tabs change content below.

ren

A gaijin in Okayama who enjoys viewing cherry blossom in spring, fireworks in summer, eating grilled sanma (Pacific saury fish) in autumn and oden in winter.

Sponsored Links

  • Pocket
  • 1 follow us in feedly

Related Article/s:

dajare_1

Kotoba Asobi: Dajare – Learning the Japanese Style of Wordplay 2

In our last post about Kotoba Asobi, we learned about Japanese palindromes or kaibun. In this post, we will learn another type of kotoba asobi which is the dajare or Japanese puns. The following two tabs change content below.BioLatest Posts harorudo Latest posts by harorudo (see all) Kaomoji: Expressing Emotions Through Text 2 – June […]

Read Article

Shiba

Japanese dog as a spiritual being

Dog in Japan One of the very popular animals in Japanese old tales. As long as I remember, usually drawn as a white medium-size Japanese dog in a book, with a curled tail and erect, triangular ears like a Kishu dog. The dogs are always loyal, take the good men’s side. I can’t remember any […]

Read Article

Kamecchi's Tamago Kake Gohan Comic Foreground

All You Can Eat Tamago Kake Gohan For 300 Yen!

T.K.G. (Raw Egg on Rice) You know already what’s TKG, right? If not yet, check out my post here about Tamago Kake Gohan. Two years ago, I saw this TV program featuring a place that serves all you can eat Tamago Kake Gohan for 300 yen (about $3)! Yes, only raw eggs and rice, crazy right? Crazy indeed, […]

Read Article

Autumn Food - grilled sanma (Pacific saury)

Japan’s Autumn Food

The temperature is getting cold and it’s finally autumn. Talking about autumn, there is a common term in Japanese, “aki no mikaku.” “Aki” stands for autumn and “mikaku” is taste, which actually refers to “autumn food.” When you say autumn food, first thing that comes up to my mind is “sanma”, a Pacific saury fish. […]

Read Article

judo

The “Gentle Way” of Judo – Competitive Judo

As noted in the history of judo, it was primarily made or developed by Jigoro Kano as a self-defense. As years passed by, it was expected for judokas to test their skills against each other. Thus, competitive judo began. History of Competitive Judo Competitive judo is a vital aspect of judo. It is where judokas […]

Read Article

Puccho

Oyatsu: Japanese snacks between meals

Oyatsu In Japanese, snacks between meals are called “oyatsu”, usually eaten around three o’clock. Personally, I believe Japanese snacks and confectionery have the best taste and the largest selections in the world, although I sometimes miss Walkers crisps cheese and onion flavour.   [My oyatsu on one day]   “Puccho” A soft type candy like […]

Read Article

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Okayama Castle: A unique blend of the old and the new

Okayama Castle they say is one of the must see places here in Okayama City, Japan. Well if you have been around cities here a number of them have their own castle. I believe there are about hundreds of them scattered all over Japan. But what then sets this castle apart from the rest of […]

Read Article

miso shiru

Know Your Food: The Miso Soup

In almost every Japanese-style set meal you order in restaurants in Japan, you always have the Miso Soup (味噌汁 – misoshiru). It is a traditional Japanese soup that is basically made up of a stock called dashi and miso. It has other ingredients depending on regional and seasonal recipes, or your personal choice. The following […]

Read Article

Japanese tally five

Counting: Japanese tally and gesture

The “Correct” counting method in Japan How do you write when you count numbers of items? I know tally marks which are used in many countries, but Japanese people don’t use them. Instead, a certain Kanji character is used. The character means “correct”. As you can see, this consists of five lines. On counting, it […]

Read Article

midori no hi

Golden Week – Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day

Continuing our feature about Japan’s Golden Week, this post will feature the second and third holidays, the Constitution Memorial Day and Greenery Day. Constitution Memorial Day The Constitution Memorial Day, or Kenpō Kinenbi (憲法記念日) as it is known in Japan, is a national holiday in Japan that is celebrated every May 3. The date signifies […]

Read Article

Sponsored Links

Leave a Reply

Sponsored Links

  • Google+
    InstagramInstagram
PAGE TOP ↑