Each Ingredient of Osechi New Year’s Dish Has Meaning?

About a week passed after the New Year started, and I assume working people must be back to their normal routine just like me. But some students may still be enjoying their winter holiday?  Lucky you!

I previously wrote about Japanese New Year’s food, osechi, and Today, I’m going to introduce an article, which explains meaning of each osechi ingredient.


osechi dish

"Sudachi" some rights reserved. flickr


In Japan, osechi food is widely eaten during the first 3 days of January to give the god of furnace and your mum a good rest.  According to the article, it seems each ingredient of osechi food does have meaning to wish some kind of luck for the New Year.

This is an image of top tier of jubako box, which is used to pack all your osechi food neatly. In this tier, majority of food tend to be light in colour and  relatively sweet in taste, so children may prefer food in this tier.  … Oh, dear, it reminds me of my parents used to try to tell me not to eat too much food in the top tier when I was a child…  Lol

But now I see it wasn’t my fault 😛


osechi dish

"detsugu" some rights reserved. flickr


OK, so here are meanings of each ingredient.  (Please note that pictures are examples, so they may not contain all ingredients described.)


Kazunoko or herring roe (middle left): prosperity of descendants

Ikura or salmon roe (sorry, no image): blessed with healthy babies

Kohakukamaboko or red and white fish sausage (bottom left): warding off evil spirits, purification

Kuri-kinton or sweet chestnut purée (middle right): wealth

Kuro-mame or cooked black beans (centre): work well and live healthily

Datemaki-tamago or sweet egg roll (centre in the next picture): filled with pomp

Tatsukuri or caramelized sardine (top middle): good harvest of rice (dried sardine is used to be used as fertiliser when planting rice).


And this is an image of the second tier.


osechi dish

"detsugu" some rights reserved. flickr


Ebi or prawn (top): live long until your back will be bent just like prawn = longevity

Kobu-maki or seaweed roll (middle left): play on words linking yorokobu (glad) and ko(n)bu (seaweed), bring forth

Tataki-gobo or seasoned burdock root (sorry, no image): good luck as burdock spread its thin root long in the ground and it opens when you hit it

Buri-no-teriyaki or teriyaki yellowtail (top left in previous image): social success as yellowtail is called by different names as they grow larger

Nishime or simmered vegetable (sorry, no photo): small yam symbolizes being blessed with babies

Kohakunamasu or vinaigrette strips of carrot and white radish (sorry, no image): peace


For kohaku-namasu, JAPAN Style previously introduced a recipe of the dish, so please have a look for some images from the link.

It is impressive that all ingredients do have meaning~. But more importantly, being free from cooking for just 3 days requires mothers to prepare this much food in advance…  I can’t imagine how tough it must have been.  Well done, all mothers in Japan!! (>_<)


So, that’s all for today.  How did you like today’s topic about osechi food?

If there is any special food that you eat on New Year’s Day in your country, please let me know.


Source: Walker plus


This is JAPAN Style!