Happy New Year!
If I were living in Japan, I would be recovering from a marathon cooking session right now. New years tradition calls for cooking mounds of special foods that last three days. It is all beautiful and have special meanings. New Years is the big holiday in Japan and the country shuts down for a week as people travel to visit family.
Just a note: I'm a 2 1/2 generation Japanese American. My dad's parents came from Okinawa, and my dad was born in California. My mom was born and raised in Okinawa and came to Los Angeles when she was 24 years old. Unfortunately, I don't know any Japanese except for perhaps the greeting yelled at you in a sushi restaurant (irashiamase = welcome).
Well, I've never cooked the News Years feast...and neither has my mother! It's like Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner and a New Years Party all thrown in one.
Nijiya Market, a Japanese grocery store, and eats it along with guacamole and chips during the bowl games! Yeah, that is the Japanese AMERICAN part. :)
On a trip to Japan, my friend and I went to a village filled with ceramic shops. It was heaven. Rows and rows of studios and stores. (Remember that Yuko?) I picked up this three-tier ceramic container.
There are a bunch of other foods you should make and eat. Including fish cakes (kamaboku), soba (buckwheat) noodles that symbolize long life, beans symbolizing good health and herring roe for fertility. You can read more about Japanese New Years here and here.
Whew! That was probably way more than you ever wanted to know about Japanese and Japanese American New Years traditions and food! Happy New Year everyone! I'll be back to baking as soon as I feel better!