Oshogatsu - Celebrate Japanese style

Being a Japanese company in the western world, we sometimes experience cultural differences. Unlike western people the Japanese do not celebrate the end of the old year, but the focus lays on welcoming the New Year, called Oshogatsu. In Japan, this is the most important celebration of the year and the festivities typically last several days, beginning right before 1 January and ranging from three days to one week.

One of the most popular practices of the Oshogatsu celebrations is mochitsuki, or the making of mochi (rice cakes) by beating special sticky rice into a dough. The happening is very entertaining and it involves two or more people who take turns in beating the cooked rice with a large wooden hammer and flipping the pile of rice between the beats.

Symbolism of food
The thought behind food and the elements of the dishes are always very important in the authentic kaiseki ryori cuisine. Osechi ryori is the traditional, colorful Japanese New Year cuisine which originated in the Heian period (794-1185). Especially with Oshogatsu each dish is immersed with symbolism appropriate to the New Year, such as good health, fertility, good harvest, happiness, long life and so on.

Good fortune and prosperity
Aya Kawamoto, Sales Representative: "Oshogatsu is Japan's most important festival and includes many traditions. The start of a New Year is traditionally celebrated with friends and family. Symbolic food, decorations, activities and other traditions are elements to wish for a prosperous year. A valuable custom in the New Year is to wish each person you speak to or meet a Happy New Year. The phrase to do this is pronounced 'akemashite omedeto gozaimasu'." The Okura offers a special Oshogatsu package to celebrate New Year Japanese style.