January 2, 2011

Happy New Year-Japanese way




 

As a follow up to my previous post on Japanese Holiday Traditions, I spent the afternoon of December 30th in a Japanese Cultural Centre with my kids, celebrating the New Year, Japanese way (O-shogatsu).



The traditional New Year menu is called Osechi. The Osechi menu varies between regions, and can include Ozoni (miso soup with mochi and vegetables), Kobumaki (kelp-rolls), Kuromame (sweetened black beans) and others. However, the most common Osechi dish is Kinako mochi symbolizing good luck.


The visit to The Japanese Cultural Centre was a fun and interesting experience. A strong and unusual rhythm played on Taiko drums by young and old drummers, made waiting in a food lineups pleasant. Regular unsweetened rice cakes (marumochis) were the obvious crowd favourite, among Onigiris, Inaris and variety of Manju sweets. We liked the sweets that were filled with sweet been paste (daifuku).







The culmination of the celebration was Mochisuki-Mochi mass pounding. After cooked, hot rice was brought on a tray to two huge stone mortars (usu), one for kids and other for adults, a group of adult men began folding, light punching and then pounding the mass. Then, anyone with a desire to do the same could take turns pounding the Mochi using huge wooden mallets (kine). My kids and I gladly took part in the pounding. The stronger the punch, the faster the rice would be ready for cake molding.

Usu


Bringing of the hot rice


Kids pounding

I did my part


Traditionally, Japanese like to pay special attention to the first time something is done in the new year. For example, the Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1st, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the Hatsuhinode.


5 comments:

alwayswinner786 said...

What a lovely way to welcome New Year!
It's always great to experience a new culture their food, specially it enrich the knowledge of the kids!
Throughout the Coming Year may your life be filled with little celebration of Happiness...Wishes you and your family a Bright, Happy and Prosperous New Year 2011 with God Bless.
Your always
Sutapa

Zexxy's wife said...

Thank you Sutapa
Best wishes and Happy New Year to you and your family!

Terrie said...

So nice to view how the Japanese celebrate the New Year. It's great to have involved in the process and enjoyed it. Such a culture interaction. Our Chinese Lunar New Year falls on 3 Feb. Believe in China town in Vancouver there will be lots of celebrations. We celebrate from 3-6 Feb. Hope you enjoy it.

Wish you Happy New Year and another successful year !

Zexxy's wife said...

Chinese New Year is muchly celebrated here in Vancouver, because of huge Chinese community, but not only in Chinatown. Multiculturalism is very strong, especially in schools, so my kids learn and are involved in almost every ethnic Holiday! Usually for Chinese New Year they are part of Dragon dances and make lanterns, and they get red envelopes from their friends, for good luck.
As every year, I will probably be in Chinatown on Feb. 3rd, and try to get some good shots for the blog.
And Happy New Year to you Terrie!

Reverend S said...

Very interesting post. You are blessed to live in such a multicultural society like yours. With the thousand years old wisdom of King Saint Stephen, "Powerful and rich will be the nation that welcomes strangers with open arms and let them teach the way of their living" :)