About “Osechi-ryori”, the special dishes for Japanese new year holidays

Osechi 日本人の生活(せいかつ):Life of Japanese

Japanese article is here; https://japaneselanguagesalonbymikapanda.com/about-osechi-245

We take “Osechi-ryori” for new year holidays!

Hello everyone, happy new year! This is MIKA from 2022.

Let’s keep enjoying together;)

Anyway, I’ll talk you about the special dishes for new year holidays called “Osechi-ryori” in Japanese at this time.

What is “Osechi-ryori”?

【Iwai-bashi; the chopsticks for the special dishes for celebration】

By the way, what is “Osechi-ryori”?

Now it’s the dishes which have the meaning of good lucks for the new year packed in a nest of boxes.

But it was not only for the new year holidays at first.

Originally it was the dishes for each times when a season has been changed. However, we take it only in new year holidays nowadays.

“Sechi” by “Osechi-ryori” means turning points in a year. In Japan, we have not only four seasons, but also other turning points of seasons. I’ll tell you about it in the next time.

Why do Japanese take “Osechi-ryori”?

Then, why do we take it? There are mainly two reasons.

First, we have to offer it for “Toshigami-sama” as the bringer of good lucks. After that, we can take it.

“Toshigami-sama” is the “Ancestral spirits” which visit our home to bring us the good lucks for a new year. If you want to know more about it, please read this article;

「神道」とは?③: What is Shinto? Vol.3
【お墓参(はかまい)り】 日本語(にほんご) 祖霊神(それいしん) こんにちは、ミカです。 今回(こんかい)は、神道の信仰(しんこう)対象(たいしょう)の2(ふた)つ目、「祖霊神(それいしん)」についてお話(はな)しします。 ...

Second, we take it to rest cooking in new year holidays. That’s why it’s necessary to prepare “Osechi-ryori” for three days!

The menu of “Osechi-ryori”

So let’s learn the names and meanings of typical dishes of “Osechi-ryori”!


“Kamaboko” is one of paste products made from some kinds of fishes.

There are two colors kamaboko, red one and white one because they are the colors of good lucks for Japanese.

And half circle slice is the basic for kamaboko because we think it’s similar to “Hatsuhinode”, the first sunrise.

Red has the power to remove evil spirits and make happiness, and white has the meaning of cleanness and sanctification.


“Kuromame” is the sweet cooked food made by black-soybeans.

Black is the color which can drive the evil spirits, and “Mame” means not only “Beans” but also “diligently”.

Additionally, there is another wishing; “We hope we can work cheerly until our skin has got sunburned like a kuromame”.


“Datemaki” is a rolled omelette for “Osechi-ryori”. “Date-sya” means a fashionable person, and they take kimono looks like this rolled omelette; that’s why we call it “Datemaki”.

We can image “Makimono”, ancient style of books and “Kakejiku” by this visual aspect, so it has the wish of the academic achievement and the development of cultures.


“Kazunoko” is salted herring roes in Japanese.

We take it for the prosperity of descendants because it has so many roes.


Because shrimps have long barbel and it will have been bowed after boiling like an elders, we take it to pray a longevity.

Also they have the meaning of joyous because their eyes start out of their head, and being born again because they shed their skin so many times.

*Joyous is “目出度(めでた)い”, and “Eyes start out of head” is “目(め)が出(で)ている” in Japanese.


“Kobumaki” is a rolled kelp with some kinds of fishes like a herring.

“Kobu” has the meaning of being pleasured with something and having a baby, that’s why we take it to wish a happiness and a prosperity of descendants.


“Kuri” is Japanese chestnut and “Kinton” is a sweet cooked food made from some kinds of beans, Japanese chestnuts and corms.

Because it is gold, we take it with the wishes to get more money!


“Tazukuri” is a cooked food made by young “Katakuchi-iwashi”, one of sardines.

It’s the dish to pray good harvests because one farmer had been succeeded with the manure of “Katakuchi-iwashi” a long time ago.


“Gobou” is a burdock in Japanese; it spreads its roots deeply, so we take it to wish prosperity of family and family business for a long time like a burdock’s roots.


“Kouhaku-namasu” is a vinegared dish made from radishes and carrots.

“Kouhaku” means “Red and white”, so it’s the combination of colors of good lucks as I’ve already explained.

In addition, radish and carrot are root vegetables same as burdocks; that’s why it has the wishing to spread its roots deeply too.

Final comment

How was it?

Ordinary “Osechi-ryori” has these dishes.

You can make a reservation or buy it in department stores or super-markets in “Nemmatsu-nenshi”, the period from the end of December to the beginning of January.

Try to find “Osechi-ryori” which you like someday!