"OSECHI" Top 5 Page for this destination Japan Local Custom Tip by cheesecake17

Japan Local Customs: 477 reviews and 616 photos


Osechi ryori" is what most people in Japan eat at the beginning of the new year.

Osechi isn't something you'll ever find on a Japanese menu. Its time and place are the first few days in January, in the Japanese home.


Osechi ryori was originally a way for housewives (and their families) to survive the first several days of the New Year, when stores throughout Japan were closed.

The foods that make up osechi can be prepared in advance and then sit out in a cool area for a few days without spoiling.

Most often everything is placed in compartmentalized lacquer boxes that are stacked in layers.

Today most osechi is purchased - either at department stores or at local supermarkets. Prices start at under Y10,000 (for portions that will feed a few people for at least three days), but it's also possible to spend literally a hundred times that amount (the equivalent of US $10,000).

Many of the food items represent prosperity, good fortune and health. (Unfortunately, regardless of how much osechi I've eaten I haven't seemed to have gotten any smarter, richer, or more industrious.)

The basic components are the same, but regional differences are reflected in the sweetness or saltiness of the flavoring and the use of local ingredients.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at osechi is that presentation is very important.

You may notice a pleasing balance of colors. The more elaborate osechi will have vegetables arranged in ornate designs, representing seasonal shapes such as pine cones and plum flowers.

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  • Updated May 5, 2005
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