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Jan 1, 2018

Out with the old, in with the New

Usher in a new year like the Japanese do – with lots of delicious food and spiced sake in the company of loved ones and friends.

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For the Japanese, New Year’s Day—or Shogatsu—is probably the most important day of the year. Businesses shut from 1 to 3 January, and families gather to spend these days together. Symbolising a fresh start, the day usually starts bright and early, with people waking up just in time to catch the sunrise, followed by a visit to a temple or shrine with family members. Popular shrines such as the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo see more than a million people walk through its gates on these three days.

And while no work is to be done on 1 January—as it’s one meant to be free of stress, anger, and other negative emotions—the days preceding it are usually a flurry of activity at home to prepare the meals to be eaten during this period. One of these is osechi, a box filled with colourful dishes such as black soy beans, rolled omelette, boiled prawns and much more, each with its own symbolic value. This is usually enjoyed with ozoni, a hearty, belly-warming soup with mochi as its main ingredient—perfect for those colder winter months.

Of course, what’s a Japanese celebration without sake? This is the one time in a year where a special variant known as otoso–sake infused various herbs and roots–can be enjoyed as a toast to good health. Read on to find out more about the significance behind these special New Year dishes and beverages.

Otoso: https://www.oishii.sg/wiki/4113/
Osechi: https://www.oishii.sg/wiki/4114/
Ozoni: https://www.oishii.sg/wiki/4115/

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