Having the priviledge to enjoy the food culture definitely makes up the most exciting part of my stay here in Japan. Japanese people take a lot of pride in every dish and every recipe they deliver to their guests. Always ensuring the best and the freshest and in the most astonishing presentation ever. In fact, I highly recommend food that can only be found exclusively during the Winter Season. So, if you are travelling Japan in the Winter, besides the fabulous Ski Resorts and cozy Onsen (hot-springs public bath), don’t miss out on the seasonal tastes.
Winter in Japan starts from December to February. Below are some great recommendations!
New Year Food
( top) Mochi. This is a decoration you can find in many homes and at times in restaurants and shops during New Year in modern times. Mochi is made round from rice and stacked on top of each other. It is believed in the ancient times (probably still a belief today!) that the God resides in it and with this placed somewhere in homes, one will be blessed with a peaceful year ahead. By the way, if you are wondering, the Orange right on top symbolizes prosperity. You can find this sold in supermarkets! Sometimes it came with a Hello Kitty design.
(images from left to right:Osechi, Soba, Ozouni) The three most representative new year food.
Osechi comes in stacked boxes and its origin dated back in the older days when families will prepare such meal boxes because all shops, restaurants, supermarkets will be closed for days. In recent days, since shops are usually open from the first or second day of new year, there was no need for families to prepare food in advance. But the tradition is still around today and you can easily pre-order osechi from supermarkets or even convenient stores( seven- eleven).
Soba might sound like a familiar japanese food to anyone but it does share a very special meaning to Japanese during New Year eve nights. We call it “toshikoshi- Soba” which symbolizes longevity and prosperity.
Last but not least, ozouni. Basically, mochi in soup. The interesting part about this is that each prefecture, each city will have their own unique ways of preparing this dish. In some areas, the mochi can be either round or square, some are grilled while some are consumed together with sweet red bean paste. It is very rare to find this dish in restaurants but I’m lucky enough to find some! (article coming soon)
Popular picks include, crabs, lobsters, puffer fish, yellowtail, shapper,shima-aji (also known as trevally).