What is osechi ryori?
“Osechi ryori” refers to the special dishes made for the New Year holiday. Originally, every change of season was recognized in a similar way; special dishes were prepared and offered to the gods on the day of the seasonal change, called “sechinichi.” The dishes prepared came to be called “osechi” (“ryori” simply means prepared food) Now this tradition is practiced only for the New Year holiday.

What does osechi ryori consist of?
In recent years, it has become common for restaurants to be open even on January 1, so a growing number of people are now purchasing osechi ryori at a restaurant or even department store. Osechi ryori is traditionally eaten over the first three days of the new year. In the past, therefore, households would prepare foods for that three-day period ahead of time and keep them in jubako – wooden boxes that were stacked on top of another. The particulars of what is included in osechi ryori differ by region, but one would commonly find kuromame (sweet black beans), tazukuri (dried sardines caramelized in sugar, soy sauce, and mirin), konbu maki (herring wrapped in kelp), and shrimp dishes among other delicacies in a jubako.

Text by Kitchen Nippon