In Japan, the arrival of the new year is abound with traditions and customs that bring good luck and clear conscience. Just as Christmas is the biggest celebration of the year in our country, Shogatsu, the festive period of the New Year is the most significant social and religious tradition Japan. This is the time when children get presents, families meet to have fun together…and of course, to eat together. The (over)consumption of fine festive food will ultimately lead to the exhaustion of the gastric system, which will in turn cry for help…around the seventh day of the first month. And this is the exact day when the Japanese eat rice porridge, crowned with seven herbs.
The traditional food to be consumed on 7 January is called nanakusa gayu, „seven-herb rice porridge”. The custom itself dates back to the Heian period, as the Japanese version of an ancient Chinese tradition. It is considered to bring good luck and keep away the demons, although many people only eat them because it makes them feel better if they overeat…no wonder: this meal is great if you are feeling sick! Rice absorbs toxins, oat is full of nutrients and the herbs will give us a taste of spring. But what are these herbs after all?
To be honest, at least half of these herbs are really weeds, and even the herbs are not the finest or best smelling ones. But that’s it: they don’t eat nanakusa gayu because it’s delicious. The truth is that even in Japan it is a bit hard to find edible (and yummy) green stuff around this time of the year, so they just eat whatever is there. The seven weeds are daikon (radish), Japanese parsley, cudweed, nipplewort, turnip, chickweed and sheperd’s purse. According to tradition, once they have been collected, we have to turn the chopping board in the direction that brings the most luck, and sing a little song about the birds that are returning to Japan from China, while happily chopping away. This will surely bring us luck for the year!
It doesn’t sound too appetizing, does it? But let’s be frank here. We have eaten the remainders of the beigli (Hungarian Christmas cake), the candies from the Christmas tree and the leftover portions of the stuffed cabbage (another traditional Christmas food in Hungary) are already in the freezer…wouldn’t it be nice to have a little bit of nanakusa gayu?!
Sushi Sei, the Japanese restaurant awaits its customers with neat and elegant surroundings in the heart of Óbuda. Taste our traditional and modern Japanese meals made from the best of ingredients and with the highest of expertise! Sushi Sei is the ideal venue for family gatherings, cheering with our friends or business meetings. Book a table now, or ask for delivery to indulge in your favourite Japanese dishes at home!