Osechi Ryori is more than just a meal, it’s an integral part of the Japanese New Year traditions. It carries the meaning of an offering to the deities of New Year’s, as well as a dish eaten to wish for a family’s happiness and prosperity.
･ Kuromame 黒豆 (Sweetened black soybeans) Kuromame are meant to be a symbol of health, with the associated idea that the person will be able to work hard in the year to come.
･ Kazunoko 数の子 (Pickled herring roe) Meant to be a symbol of abundant offspring.
･ Tatsukuri 田作り (Dried, sweetened baby sardines) Historically sardines were used to fertilize rice fields, and this word means ‘making rice field’ in Japanese. Symbolically this food is eaten in the hopes that the coming year’s harvest will be plentiful.
･ Kohaku Kamamobo 紅白蒲鉾 (Red and white fish cake) The colors represent Japan (most easily found on the country’s flag), and are generally considered to be good luck.
･ Datemaki 伊達巻 (An sweet rolled omelet mixed with mashed shrimp) In the past, Japanese people traditionally rolled important documents or paintings. It is meant to bring the development of study and learning.
･ Kurikinton 栗きんとん (Sweet dumplings made from chestnuts) Being associated with gold, and eating them is meant to bring financial prosperity in the year to come.
･ Kombu 昆布 (Seaweed) The word is closely connected to the word ‘yorokobu’ or happiness.
･ Kohaku Namasu 紅白膾 (Vinegared salad with carrot and white radish) It has the same benefits as ‘Kohaku Kamaboko’.
･ Tai 鯛 Sea bream The word is closely connected to the word ‘medetai’, meaning happy or joyous. In osechi, it’s meant to bring joy and happiness in the new year.
･ Ebi 海老 (Simmered shrimp) It looks like an old man with long beard and a round back. This food is meant to bring longevity.
･ Satoimo 里芋 (Taro root) This dish is eaten in the hopes that the family will be blessed with many children.
･ Renkon 蓮根 (Lotus root) This vegetable has very distinctive holes when it is cut in cross sections. You can see clearly when you look through these holes. Therefore, this food is eaten in the hopes of having a future with no obstacles.
・Gobo 牛蒡 (Burdock root) Just like burdock roots that grow so firmly in the soil, it symbolizes hope for a life of strength and stability.
･ Zoni 雑煮 (Mochi soup) Zoni is a mochi soup that is eaten along with Osechi ryori on New Year’s Day in Japan.
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