Japanese New Year Provides Tasty Meals

MARIA KORNALIAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

All across the world, families of all cultures welcome the New Year in different ways. A Japanese student at GCC explained how her family celebrates the new year and the many tasty, traditional Japanese foods the celebration includes on Jan. 1.

Hirono Enami, a GCC International Relations major, moved to the U.S. in May 2002 from Tokyo. She explained that the Japanese New Year offers the culture an opportunity to indulge in a variety of great tasting foods.

One such traditional New Year dish is “moci.” Made of rice, the thick dish can also be served with such things as soy sauce or beans.
Another such customary dish is called “osechi,” which is made of vegetables and meat. “Osechi is a very colorful, very beautiful and very traditional dish,” Enami said.

She explained that traditionally, young and older women would cook the dishes for the family in late December to have the food prepared on New Year’s Day. “We want to relax and have conversation on New Year’s,” she said. “We don’t want to have to cook.”

However, in recent generations, since many young women no longer cook as much as in previous years, they have begun ordering out from department stores, Enami said.

Besides the exotic foods, the Japanese culture also has traditional practices every New Year’s. Adults give each of the children in the family a gift of money, called “oboshieama,” to use in the coming year.
On Jan. 2, the day after the New Year, the culture believes that one goes to bed and dreams a dream that will predict the coming year. This is called the “first dream.”

For Enami and her family, celebrating the New Year would consist of a trip to a hotel in Tokyo, where the extended family gets together for a celebration and dinner. Enami is planning on going to Tokyo this winter.

Enami is unsure of her future plans or whether or not she will stay in the states or move back home to Tokyo, where she was born.

“I like people here and I want to stay, but I have family there that I need to take care of,” she said. “I’m not sure yet what I am going to do.”

With all the tasty treats offered by the Japanese culture, Enami looks forward to spending the holidays in Tokyo.