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OSECHI RYORI お節料理 Japanese New Year Tradition

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

I apologize that I haven't written over a month. As we say "SHIWASU師走" for December, that means monks were visiting many places to read sutras, I have been cooking without a break until today. I joined and created pop-ups such as Japan Festival, Holiday Washoku Omakase, Sushi Charity, a membership private dinner, and the high light is New Year Omakase "SHIDASHI" 仕出し Catering with OSECHI appetizers.

There are many stories in the history behind OSECHI culture, so I would skip speaking about it here. Please visit a link below:

to know about OSECHI.

I was surprised that I saw many shops and restaurants served variety sizes and styles of OSECHI set the end of last year and many inquiries came to me, too. It seemed like a new norm in COVID that Japanese families in the US would like to go back to the basic and have traditional style of food welcoming the new year. I was not planning to make it, since it would take quite a work to do all by myself. But inspired by one of my regular customer asking me whatever I would like to make for new year celebration, I could not help creating an OSECHI box that had nine items - a flower petal style SAKE-KINUTA 鮭砧, KOBUMAKI 昆布巻 with white fish, TATAKI-GOBO たたきごぼう, TATSUKURI 田作り, KAZUNOKO 数の子, KOUHAKU-YAHATAMAKI 紅白八幡巻き, DATEMAKI 伊達巻き, KURAGE-SUJOUYU-AE くらげ酢醤油あえ, KINKAN-KANRONI 金柑甘露煮, along with modern authentic Japanese food such as UNA-JUうな重 , KAMO鴨 Roast , Lobster ONIGAWARA-YAKI 鬼瓦焼き, MUGIBUTA-REISHABU 麦豚冷しゃぶ, UNI-IKURA CHIRACHI-ZUSHI ウニいくらちらし寿司, KAKI-NANBAN 牡蠣南蛮, and Lobster DASHI-MISO だし味噌 Chowder. I pretty much follow traditional way, which doesn't only mean the flavor, seasoning etc., but also how often I should treat ingredients with vinegar to keep the all surface acidic enough for food safety during the period of new year days, "SANGANICHI 三が日".

As I always say, traditional culture fades when it stops being updated as current. But it doesn't mean that we'd better make a fusion food. We should always study stories and history first, and try to realize it in modern-day. We celebrate the new year, make wishes for a better year, and take a good rest eating healthy food to kick off. These are much more important than how gorgeous it looks and how creative the taste is, although nobody would complain that it looks and tastes appetitive!

Please share your experience with OSECHI and traditional Japanese new year.

Happy New Year 2021! We all should have a much, much better year after having been suffered in COVID!


-Youji Iwakura

(Photo by Isabelle Lin)

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