In this article, we will introduce some traditions perpetuated during winter in Japan.
Celebrating the Winter Solstice in Japan
Winter solstice (called Toji in Japanese), is the shortest day of the year. In ancient times, Japanese people would see this day as a time when the sun’s power is getting weak and bad luck will rise. To reverse it, they developed traditions to bring good luck back.
It is said that taking a yuzu scented bath on this day brings good health. Indeed, Yuzu is packed with Vitamin C, which will make you stronger against cold weather. Rubbing yuzu against your skin in the bath would also heal it from the cold. Finally, it is said that the scent of yuzu keeps devil forces away.
Eating Mochi with Oshiruko: Kagami Biraki celebration
It literally means “Breaking the mirror”. This event usually takes place on the 11 of January, and consists of breaking the Kagami Mochi.
From New Year’s Day to January 7th, it is believed that Toshigami visit people’s homes. Toshigami (年神, 年 meaning year and 神 deity) are considered as spirits of the ancestors.
It is said that the souls of Toshigami live inside the Kagami mochi. By eating it, you will be endowed with their power. Eating Kagami-mochi will bring good health for the coming year.
After breaking the Kagami-mochi, it is often eaten with shiruko. This is because the azuki beans (red beans) represent talismans to dispel evil spirits.
It is a tradition that was introduced to Japan from China, during the samurai era. It is believed that the red color of azuki beans has the power of dispelling evil.
In other words, eating oshiruko and kagami mochi together will protect you from evil spirits and give you strength and good health for the new year.
The first dream of the year: Hatsuyume
Hatsuyume (初夢) is the first dream you have after the beginning of the year. It is said that it is auspicious to have a dream of “Ichi Fuji Ni Taka San Nasu” (一富士二鷹三茄子), or first Mt Fuji, second a hawk and third eggplants (this is why you can see those represented on the Kagami mochi included in the box)
This is the so-called best 3 good dreams. Here, we will explain what each dream is about.
■ Ichi Fuji – First, Mt Fuji
Mt. Fuji sounds like 無事 “buji” meaning “safe”. Dreaming of the high and beautiful Mt. Fuji will give you luck and strength to achieve your goals.
■ Ni Taka – Second, a hawk
A hawk catching its prey with its sharp claws is a suggestion to seize your chance. It is a year that will lead to the realization of your dreams.
■ San Nasu – Thirst, eggplants
In the past, eggplants were an expensive vegetable that only rich people could eat on New Year’s Day. It represents savings and prosperity of descendants.
Included in the Peko Peko Box
Included in the Peko Peko Box will be a Kagami Mochi, oshiruko paste as well as some yuzu syrup to make a hot drink. Dont forget to subscribe to receive your box.