What is a Kagami mochi decoration? A Japanese New Year tradition

During the end of the year and New Year’s holidays, you’ll see two donut-shaped objects with an orange on the top of it. What is this snowman-like object?

2017-01-13   Culture, Foods & Drinks,

kagamimochi


【 CONTENTS 】

During the end of the year and New Year’s holidays, you’ll see two donut-shaped objects with an orange on the top of it. What is this snowman-like object?

Welcome the deity of the New Year with Kagami mochi rice cakes.

kagamimochi
As a traditional Japanese New Year’s decoration, many people recognize Kagami mochi; layered round rice-cakes with an orange on the top. In Japan, there is an old thought that says, the deity that gives you new life comes on New Year’s Day and brings us good fortune. Kagami https://www.google.com/webhp?gl=us&hl=en&gws_rd=cr&pws=0mochi was treated as a precious gift to dedicate to God. It’s history is said to trace back over 1000 years.

It’s round shape and an orange have precious meanings.

kagamimochi
Kagami mochi with various kinds of decorations

It is often said that its shape resembles a bronze mirror, considered a treasure by the ancient Japanese.By double decking such noble items means to double up fortune. The orange on top is called dai-dai and the pronunciation of it sounds traditional in Japanese, giving hope for prosperity to following descendants.

Kagami mochi is usually decorated with Noshi decorative Japanese paper, ferns, and dried kelp. However, decorations vary from region to region and from family to family. Please find unique Kagami mochi in your locale.

Where to place the Kagami mochi decoration?

According to Japan’s Kagami Mochi Association, placing Kagami mochi in many areas of your house is recommended. Each location such as the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom have a corresponding deity.

A Variety of Kagami mochi sold at a supermarket.
A Variety of Kagami mochi sold at a supermarket.

You can find different sizes ranging from extra-large to small Kagami mochi everywhere in Japan. Japanese supermarkets sell Kagami mochi decoration sets during December. Here is a you tube link showing how to properly assemble the decorations.

How to Eat Kagami mochi? Eat Ozōni and Oshiruko on the day of Kagami-biraki!

It is also believed that God’s power resides in Kagami mochi. To obtain the power of God for the New Year, people cook it with soup creating Ozōni and Oshiruko.

Ozōni is miso soup or soy sauce soup with mochi.
Ozōni is miso soup or soy sauce soup with mochi.
Oshiruko is sweet red bean soup with mochi.
Oshiruko is sweet red bean soup with mochi.

When preparing the Kagami-mochi for the soup, we don’t use knives to cut the rice-cakes, but break them with wooden hammers. We call this procedure, Kagami biraki. It depends on the location, but usually “Kagami-biraki” is held on January 11th.

In modern society, a more convenient style of Kagami mochi is popular. The two layers of mochi are packed in plastic to prevent spoilage. Moreover, a Kagami mochi shaped plastic package holds pieces of small mochi as an advanced style.

Are you interested in the mochi rice-cake recipe and the other Japanese new year’s decorations?

How is mochi rice cake traditionally made?
Kadomatsu gate, the other decoration of the Japanese New Year’s holiday

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AUTHOR

miho mayeda

miho mayeda

Writer

I politely introduce my beloved country of Japan in my beloved Japanese language. I am an artisan with words, and will give my body and soul to the end. I am a freelance editor and writer who was born and raised in Tokyo.