In Japan, we clebrate two notable events in January. One is a clebration of New Years which is probably the biggest celebration of all in Japan. The family members get together and eat Osechi Ryori, the traditional Japnese New Years foods. Each ingredient or meal in Osechi Ryori has meanings to it with a hope for continuous happiness throughout the year.
You can buy Osechi Ryori at a department store or supermarket but homemade Osechi Ryori always tastes best! I will introduce some of the dishes included in Osechi Ryori.
- Herring roe, Kazunoko in Japanese means prosperity of descendants as they are so many eggs in it.
- Small dried sardines or anchovies cooked almost to dryness in soy sauce and sugar, Tazukuri in Japanese means praying for huge harvest.
- Simmered black beans, Kuromame means praying for diligence and health.
- Boiled fish paste, Kamaboko in Japanese means protecting from evil and achieving purity.
- Mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chesnuts, Kurikinton in Japanese means praying to amass wealth.
- Yellowtail fish means praying for sucess at work or promotion.
- Shrimp means praying for longevity.
- Pickled daikon and carrots means a good fortune as the color of the vegitables represents red and white (In Japan, a combination of red and white represents a good fortune).
There is a lot more dishes than the list above in Osechi Ryori. You can only eath these dishes during the new years time in Japan. Looking back at 2020, we had to overcome a lot of hardships mainly due to the worldwide pandemic but having been able to celebrate the begenning of the new year with my family was as precious as any other new years in my life.
Another big event in January was Coming of Age Day in Japan which is a Japanese holiday held annually on the second Monday of January. It is to celebrate and encourage all the poeple who have reached or will reach the age of 20 years old. The people of this age realize they have become adults as they celebrate this day with their friends and family. Normally, they wear traditional Japanese clothes, Kimonos on this day and attend coming of age ceremonies held at local and prefectural offices. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were lots of cities and prefectures that cancelled the events in person and aired the events online or conducted the events across multiple time slots so that the attendees can maintain a social disntance.
The picture below was from my Kimono class where my teachers practiced helping students get dressed in Kimonos to get ready for the coming of age day.