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Osechi on New Year's Party

Host: Yasuko Sawahata

Japanese people celebrate New Year with specific foods, which include osechi and ozoni. The traditional osechi-ryori looks like a group of gorgeous bento boxes and o-zoni is a soup with mochi (non-sweat rice cake). Yasuko had the ingredients for individual dishes that her mother brought from Japan and kindly shared them with us. With them, we made similar osechi dishes to what Japanese people have on the New Year.

O-zoni

The osechi dishes are associated with special meanings to celebrate the New Year. Kobumaki, in which kombu (edible kelp) is the main ingredient, is one of the main osechi dishes because “kobu” of kobumaki is associated with yorokobu, which means joy and joyfulness.

Kobu-maki

Because Japanese words have the same pronunciations with different meanings, a word can suggest different interpretations and Japanese people enjoy adding further meanings to one word in poetry. This rhetorical tradition is particularly found on the New Year. Apart from the poetic play, kombu is extensively appreciated in Japan because it is a healthy food and creates umami, which enhances the taste of the whole dish. Kobumaki is a special food for the New Year while many Japanese often have kombu in its different forms. For example, kombu is used for dashi, Japanese stock for soup.


Pictures from this Osechi Party

NIshime Taki-awase Dashimaki-tamago Dashimaki-tamago Asazuke-cucumber Kuri-kinton Chocolate Cake

Small notes:

Different Japanese regions have different o-zoni styles and people are proud of their uniqueness with various mixtures of ingredients, other than mochi, and types of miso. You may notice that Japanese people love food! Each of them has different subjective views of food because each region in Japan has its own cooking tradition. Have you ever watched a famous TV program “Iron Chef” or read a manga “Oishinbo”? The program and manga indicate the Japanese obsession for food. If you switch on a TV in Japan, one of the programs will be about cooking or restaurants. Japanese people love exploring different foods and appropriate different styles into their traditions. I would regard Japan as a food heaven without obesity.

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