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A calendar of Japanese foods


torakris
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In Japan, throughout the year, there are various days on which certain foods are eaten. I was thinking it would be nice to list these days (and the foods of course) in a thread, handling each day as we approach it and then by the end of the year we would have a full calendar! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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JANUARY 7

This is the day the Japanese eat nankusakayu, this is a type of okayu (rice gruel) made with seven (nana) grasses/herbs (kusa).

Rice gruel cooked with the seven herbs of spring -seri, nazuna, gogy, hakobe, hotokenoza, suzuna, suzushiro.

Traditionally it is cooked on January 7, due to the belief that these herbs will remove evil from the body and prevent illness.

On New Year's Day we tend to eat and drink too much, which upsets our stomachs.

So after the feasts of the New Year, eating light healthy gruel with lot of vitamins is good for us.

from here:

http://www.shejapan.com/jtyeholder/jtye/li...a/nanakusa.html

this gruel is not made with any 7 herbs you feel like adding, it is made with a 7 specific plants for more information on them look here:

http://www.shejapan.com/jtyeholder/jtye/li...a/harunana.html

click on any one to see an English name

and don't worry you don't ned to go running around to various stores trying to collect all 7, the supermarkets have them all conveniently packed up for you in one container/bag:

http://www.ehime-iinet.or.jp/johoehime/200...ts/nanakusa.jpg

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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JANUARY 7

This is the day the Japanese eat nankusakayu, this is a type of okayu (rice gruel) made with seven (nana) grasses/herbs (kusa).

Today at the store I saw a baggie that had what looked like soupy mushed up rice and other stuff in it. I forget what it was called, but I think it was this. It is just about the right time.... :huh:

What does it taste like?

Maybe I'll go back and try a bag. There were two different types....

Edited by Kiem Hwa (log)
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Koshougatsu (Little Shogatsu) on the 16th of January, also known as Onna-Shougatsu or Women's Shogatsu, seems to be associated with azuki-gayu.

The date is closer to the original Shogatsu season, and maybe that's why the old-fashioned (rather than the gourmand) Shogatsu dishes are seen...azuki beans in the gruel, mixed simmered vegetable nishime, and maybe some small grilled fish. Maybe because it's such an old tradition, there seem to be a lot of regional variations.

The day before, the 15th, is the day when the New Year mochi is officially broken up and eaten, usually in zenzai (sweet bean soup).

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What does it taste like?

Maybe I'll go back and try a bag.  There were two different types....

I have never eaten it... :shock:

I don't really like okayu......

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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What does it taste like?

Maybe I'll go back and try a bag.  There were two different types....

I have never eaten it... :shock:

I don't really like okayu......

"okayu" is the Japanese version of the Chinese "congee", right?

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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What does it taste like?

Maybe I'll go back and try a bag.  There were two different types....

I have never eaten it... :shock:

I don't really like okayu......

"okayu" is the Japanese version of the Chinese "congee", right?

yes it is!

we talked a bit about okayu in this thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=19909&st=0

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I made nanakusa-gayu yesterday. This is what was in the pack of nanakusa I bought:

gallery_7940_336_1105167826.jpg

From left: hotokenoza (henbit); seri (water dropwort); daikon; hakobe (chickweed); nazuna (Shepard's purse); suzuna (turnip); and gogyo (cudweed).

I made a thick okayu, as shown on the bottom right. This should be a simple meal but we kind of went nuts and added a few toppings for the rice as well as some side dishes...

gallery_7940_336_1105168059.jpg

We ate the nanakusa-gayu plain for the first helping, and with eggs for the second (and third!):

gallery_7940_336_1105168707.jpg

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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According to one of my cookbooks, on January 15th there's a special okayu that's made with azuki beans. is there a name for this dish/special occasion?

thanks in advance,

gus :-)

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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According to one of my cookbooks, on January 15th there's a special okayu that's made with azuki beans. is there a name for this dish/special occasion?

thanks in advance,

gus :-)

yes it is called azuki-gayu, Helen mentioned it up at the top of this thread.

looks something like this:

http://www.pref.saitama.jp/A06/B200/cookin.../azuki-gayu.jpg

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In the old Japanese calendar, each month was given an informal name, one that is more poetic in sound and meaning.

Therefore, instead of Ichigatsu, or the formal Japanese translation of January, Mutsuki is used, which signifies the month of affection, since family and friends gather for the New Years celebration.

(Information on Mutsuki - "Calendar, dates, and time." JAPAN: An Illustrated Encyclopedia 1 A-L. 1993 ed. )

source:

http://oishii-web.hp.infoseek.co.jp/sozaie/ja.htm

EDITED: Fixed broken link.... Thanks Hiroyuki!

Edited by Kiem Hwa (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

FEBRUARY 3rd

This is Setsubun and the most famous food for this day is of course the mame (beans), you will find these sold in various ways leading up to this day most often in small packets like this.

These beans are thrown around in the house or out, while shouting for the evil spirits to leave and for the happiness to come in. Some people also eat the same number of beans as their age for extra luck in the upcoming year.

There is also a custom of eating grilled sardines and then putting their heads on sticks outside your door to further ward off evil spirits.

and

Other celebrations of Setsubun involve eating Nori Maki, a special sushi roll. Particularly in Western Japan, many face the "lucky direction" (in geomantic form) for the year (SSW for 2003) and try to eat the entire sushi roll without saying a word. Those who are able to accomplish this feat (the roll is about 20 cm long) are promised luck with their business, longevity, and freedom from illness. In Osaka, where this tradition appears to have originated, some people say the practice started when a young Geisha ate the tasty delicacy in order to assure she would be with her favorite lover in the coming year. In some areas, the Nori Maki is made with a stuffing of seven colors which represent Shichi Fukujin (seven gods of happiness).

from here

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Other celebrations of Setsubun involve eating Nori Maki, a special sushi roll. Particularly in Western Japan, many face the "lucky direction" (in geomantic form) for the year (SSW for 2003) and try to eat the entire sushi roll without saying a word. Those who are able to accomplish this feat (the roll is about 20 cm long) are promised luck with their business, longevity, and freedom from illness. In Osaka, where this tradition appears to have originated, some people say the practice started when a young Geisha ate the tasty delicacy in order to assure she would be with her favorite lover in the coming year. In some areas, the Nori Maki is made with a stuffing of seven colors which represent Shichi Fukujin (seven gods of happiness).

from here

Yeah, I know. It is basically an Osaka thing, and I don't follow that custom.

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FEBRUARY 3rd

This is Setsubun and the most famous food for this day is of course the mame (beans), you will find these sold in various ways leading up to this day most often in small packets like this.

These beans are thrown around in the house or out, while shouting for the evil spirits to leave and for the happiness to come in. Some people also eat the same number of beans as their age for extra luck in the upcoming year.

Can you please explain a little more.....where are the beans thrown? - on the floor? in the corners of the room?

I suppose Japanese keep thier houses clean enough to eat them off the floor.....not our house though... :shock: ...can we just throw them in a bowl on the table?

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My kids are still throwing them around (one day later), I am going to be finding beans in the corners of the rooms for months...

When I had babies in the house I would make the older kids throw them out a window or go outside to throw, obviously they weren't eaten though.

I don't see why a bowl wouldn't work, maybe make a game out of it and set the bowl a little away from you and see how many you can get inside. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I suppose Japanese keep thier houses clean enough to eat them off the floor.....not our house though... :shock:

We take off our shoes at the entrance, and that's the only reason why I can eat the beans scattered on the floor. :biggrin:

Yesterday evening, we celebrated setsubun this way:

I put on the oni mask, and tried to attack my children, and they threw some beans at me and beat me! Then, I opened a window and the entrance door, and we all threw some beans from the inside to the outside, saying "Oni wa soto!" (evils out). Then, we moved to the entrance and threw some from there to the inside, saying "Fuku wa uchi!" (fortunes in). Then, we ate some beans, as well as the ones on the floor. It's customary to eat as many beans as your age, but we just can't stop eating more. :biggrin:

I think that the way of throwing beans differs from family to family.

Links to setsubun-related webpages:

http://www.yoke.city.yokohama.jp/echo/0501/c.html

http://www.tctv.ne.jp/members/sawanoya/setubun.html

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Gung Hee Fat Choy!!!!

This year (2005, Lunar Year 4703), Chinese New Year falls on February 9th. However, in Japan, it seems Chinese New Year isn't celebrated much anymore:

From the toshikoshi soba thread:

My next question is why do Japanese celebrate New Years on the same day as the Western New Years as opposed to Chinese New Years???

As a Japanese born in 1960, I have never thought of such a question. :sad:

The change from the old to the new calendar was made rather abruptly by the Meiji Government in the Meiji period as part of their effort to accelerate 'westernization'. There seems to have been considerable resistance against the sudden change, but now the Japanese take it for granted to celebrate the New Year on January 1st.

Even if the Chinese New Year is no longer officially regarded in Japan, are there any celebrations or special foods eaten??

Over here, we are going to celebrate with a Lion Dance, and eat "lucky" symbolic foods including Jai (Monks food - a dish of root vegetables or fibrous vegetables, many attributed with various superstitious aspects), Nian Gao ("Year Cake", a brown sugar mochi cake, sweetness symbolizes a rich & sweet life, layers symbolize rising abundance for the coming year, round shape signifies family reunion), Noodle dishes (for longevity), Mooncakes (even though mooncakes are actually supposed to be eaten during the Autumn Harvest Moon festival), and drink some tea (Oolong and Jasmine).

More about Chinese New Year Traditions and Foods:

http://www.educ.uvic.ca/faculty/mroth/438/...e_new_year.html

http://chinesefood.about.com/od/chinesenew...olicnewyear.htm

Its finally the year of the Rooster!!!!

Goodbye Monkey !!!! YAY !!!! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

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The various Chinatowns in Japan do have Chinese New Year's celebrations, but outside of Chinatown nobody does any celebrating. In fact, none of the students in my morning class (I'm talking about fourteen adult students) were even aware that today is the Chinese New Year!

Once upon a time Setsubun was New Year's Eve in Japan. The following day, Risshun, was the first day of the New Year and was the same day as Chinese New Year's. It was on a different day every year, of course, depending on the moon. Now Setsubun is a fixed day, so it rarely coincides with Chinese New Year's.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Smallworld - your okayu looks wonderful. Made me hungry just looking at it and I just finished my dinner only 30 minutes ago. Is that takuwan to the left or something else? If it is takuwan, your family must like it very much as it looks quite a bit for a single portion.

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Smallworld - your okayu looks wonderful.  Made me hungry just looking at it and I just finished my dinner only 30 minutes ago.  Is that takuwan to the left or something else?  If it is takuwan, your family must like it very much as it looks quite a bit for a single portion.

No, it's not takuan. I almost never have takuan in the house, as my husband doesn't like it. I've always been disappointed when I've bought small packages of takuan. The takuan sold whole (as in one whole daikon) is the one I like, but it always goes bad before I can finish it all. (I wonder if takuan- or any pickles for that matter- can be frozen?)

Anyway, the stuff you see is just simmered daikon slices. Very plain stuff.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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  • 2 weeks later...

March 3rd: Hina Matsuri (Girls Day)!!!!

Some foods to eat for Hina Matsuri include:

Chirashi-Zushi, which we have been discussing:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25403

Sakura-mochi, we have been discussing Sakura here:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=60362

The Hina Matsuri Thread, read more about foods to eat for Hina-Matsuri here:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=38174

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  • 2 weeks later...
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