Osechi boxes for the New Year’s holidays, a Japanese food tradition.

Traditional dishes for the Japanese New Year’s holiday are Osechi boxes with a variety of lucky foods. Beautifully set in compartments of layered boxes, the food provides a very celebratory mood.

2019-04-19   Food & Drinks, Traditions & History,

Osechi dish

Prepare Osechi boxes for the coming New Year.

During January 1st to the 3rd people eat Osechi, or New Year dishes, to celebrate the New Year. A variety of colorful dishes are put in the compartments of layered boxes called Ju-bako. It is said that, calmly and peacefully inviting a New Year’s deity during the first three days of a New Year is good manners. Most dishes are cooked as preserved foods lasting for 3 days, and don’t require the use of kitchen utensils.


It used to be a gift for a deity.

Osechi used to be a gift dedicated to God as seasons change, but now it has become the food people eat during the New Year holiday. Osechi is a dish dedicated to a deity and is also the food for praying for a family’s health and happiness. It is made using seafood and food from the mountains as a prayer for a family’s health, safety, and the prosperity of their descendants.


Each Osechi dish has a meaning to it.

Each dish has a meaning, including health, harvest, happiness, prosperity, and longevity. It is best to appreciate the meaning of each dish.

Red and white Kamaboko: Broiled fish cake represents Japan’s rising sun and is the most important of the Osechi dishes. The colors of red and white are used during festive occasions in Japan.


Kazunoko: Herring roe has many eggs, which gives meaning to prosperity for descendants.

Datemaki: Sweetened omelet made of egg and minced fish. People wish for educational success with it, because it looks a rolled painting or book from ancient times.


Kurikinton: Mashed sweet potatoes with sweetened chestnuts represents wealth, due to their golden appearance.

Shrimp: Represents longevity because of its bent back, resembling elderly people.

Kuwai: A typical Shogatsu vegetable has a nice appearance. As a big bud coming out from the bulb, people wish for a quick promotion with this vegetable.

There are many other dishes, all having their own meaning. Some cooked Osechi dishes are available at Japanese supermarkets. If you would like to get some luck, try one or more!


Cooking dishes for Osechi box

Osechi boxes hold a variety of different dishes. Cooking the foods is very timely and money consuming. It takes a few days to prepare them. Collecting the ingredients is not cheap. Homemade Osechi was very common in the past, but pre-made Osechi boxes are easy to buy at prestigious department stores or at ordinary supermarkets nowadays. Osechi boxes offered by famous Japanese restaurants are also very popular. Japanese people who are eager to get such lavish Osechi boxes, will stand in a long line to reserve them.

Replica Osechi boxes displayed at a department store.
Replica Osechi boxes displayed at a department store.
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I’m a freelance filmmaker who was born in Tochigi prefecture. I like the Southeast Asian subculture. I’d like to present information that will make the people of the world want to visit Japan.