SEASONAL DELIGHTS (Winter 2020) - Oshōgatsu (お正月): Japanese New Year Celebrations



Festiveosekihan (red rice) is served at New Year’s and other special occasions in Japan. Rice is steamed withazuki (red beans), adding a red hue which is a symbol of good luck. The beans are also auspicious symbols of prosperity and fertility. 

Kinsendo usesmochi (glutinous) rice in their version of osekihan. Once cooked, the rice takes on a sticky, chewy texture known as “mochi mochi” in Japan. The rice has a natural sweetness that perfectly balances the saltiness of the beans. Local producers and high school students worked together to create this osekihan, using a local azuki bean calledtanban dainagon. The name of the rice,akaoni (literally “red demon”), comes from Akai Naomasa, an infamous ruler who gained control of the Tanba area and earned the name “Red Demon of Tanba.” 

Ingredients:Glutinous rice (from Japan),azuki (red beans) (from Tanba city), red bean broth, polished rice (from Hyogo Prefecture), salt (may include soybeans)
Suggested uses:Partially peel back the film cover ¼ of the way. Microwave at 500W for 2 mins.
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Venus Farm

Goma (sesame seeds) find their way into many Japanese dishes, adding a subtle nutty, buttery flavor. They’re so integral in Japanese cuisine that Japan has become the largest importer of sesame seeds. Finding authentic Japanese sesame seeds is extremely difficult however, as only 0.1% of the sesame seeds in Japan are produced domestically. We’re excited to be able to share this rare specialty with you!

There are three main types of sesame seeds in Japan: white, black and golden, with golden being the most rare. Raw sesame seeds maintain their freshness for longer, which is why these are delivered raw and can be easily toasted to add a crispy, nutty texture. For New Year’s, you can find them intazukuri (recipe included) or as a dressing known asgoma-aeon blanched spinach or green beans. 

Ingredients:Raw golden sesame seeds
Suggested uses:Toast before using (not recommended to be eaten raw) and then sprinkle on any dish to add a nutty, buttery flavor. To toast, place the sesame seeds in a frying pan on low heat and remove once 2-3 sesame seeds start to pop. To grind the toasted sesame seeds, we suggest using a mortar and pestle (suribachi andsurikogi). To makegomashio (sesame salt) mix 12 parts ground toasted sesame seeds with 1 part sea salt. Use in place of salt, or sprinkle on a bowl of rice, onigiri (rice ball) or Akaonimesho Osekihan. To makegoma-ae (sesame dressing), mix 3 tbsp raw sesame seeds (toast then grind) with 1½ tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, ½ tsp sake and ½ mirin. To make horenso goma-ae (traditional Japanese sesame spinach side dish), blanch ½ lb raw spinach and mix with goma-ae.
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Otani Masakichi Shoten

The tradition of servingosechi ryōri (New Year’s meal) started in Japan over one thousand years ago. Each individual dish represents a wish for good health, happiness, and prosperity and are all carefully packed into colorful, lacquered boxes calledjubako. One of these foods is akombu (kelp) roll known askobumaki

Otani Masakichi Shoten crafts their kobumaki-style kelp rolls by wrapping kelp harvested from the southern seas of Japan around fresh Pacific herring, delicately tying it with a strip ofkanpyo (dried gourd), and then simmering it in soy sauce with a touch of sugar.

Ingredients:Kelp, Pacific herring, fermented seasoning, soy sauce, reduced starch syrup,kanpyo (strips of dried gourd), sugar, fish and shellfish extract, yeast extract
Suggested uses:Cut into 3-4 pieces and enjoy as is or as a side dish.
Nutritional information: N/A

Producer:Kaneko Seimen


Toshikoshi soba (literally “year-crossing soba”) is enjoyed on New Year’s Eve as the noodles are easily cut, representing a letting go of the past year. 

Kaneko Seimen has been hand crafting noodles in the rural town of Nakai in Kanagawa since 1877. While other companies have moved towards mass-production using refined, foreign white wheat, Kaneko Seimen continues to make their noodles using domestic ingredients. These noodles have a high ratio of buckwheat flour, over 70%, providing a noticeable nutty flavor and a characteristic dark color, hence the namekurosoba (literally “black” soba). Unlike dry, brittle noodles, these noodles are naturally hung to dry, aided by the wind of blowing fans, resulting in a soft, fresh texture similar to raw noodles.

Ingredients:Buckwheat flour, wheat flour, wheat protein, salt
Suggested uses:Boil for 4-5 mins, rinse under cold water and drain well. Serve withAgo Dashi Tsuyu Bagas a soup broth.
Nutritional information: N/A

Producer:Nagasaki Goto Udon


Thisago dashi tsuyu (literally “jaw dropping dashi”) gets its name from being jaw droppingly delicious.  Unlike traditional fish broth made fromkatsuobushi (dried, fermented, smoked tuna), this broth is made from kelp, shiitake mushrooms, and a local flying fish from Kyushu known astobiuo. To make this dashi, each fish is individually roasted over a charcoal fire, before being dried in the sun. This concentrates the umami flavors resulting in an enhanced tasting dashi. 

Ingredients:Salt (from Nagasaki), grilled flying fish (produced in Nagasaki), powdered soy sauce (includes wheat and non-GMO soybeans), sugar, kelp, dried shiitake mushrooms, yeast extract
Suggested uses:To make a noodle soup broth add one dashi bag to a pot with 350 ml water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 mins. Remove from heat and let stand for another 5 mins. Squeeze the dashi bag and discard. Add ½ - 1 tsp of soy sauce to taste if desired. For a more concentrated noodle dipping sauce, combine 1 dashi bag with 250 ml of water (makes 2 servings). Can also be used to makeOzōni (Japanese New Year’s Soup) with the recipe included.
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Tajima Brewery

This international award-winning Red Vinegar from Tajima Brewery gets its start from traditional sake making. During the fermentation process, a fine paste known as sake lees orsakekasu, remains after the liquid has been removed to make sake. The lees have a deep complex flavor with a slightly fruity taste similar to sake. 

Established in 2008, Tajima Brewing uses sake lees to create their Red Vinegar. Their brewery was built in a closed elementary school with the vision of rebuilding the local community. They use natural methods to create their fermented products, using rice grown in harmony with the local environment inhabited by beautiful Japanese storks. You can also try their Pure “Stork” Rice Vinegar available in our Creative Beginnings: Redefining “Wa” Care Package.

Ingredients:Sake lees (jun-mai lees, from Japan)
Suggested uses:Use in place of vinegar in dressings or sauces. Try using it to make sushi rice in the Red Vinegar Chirashizushi recipe included or to make a New year’s side dish calledKohaku Namasu. Simply shred and mix ¼ daikon (Japanese radish) and ⅓ carrot, sprinkle with ½ tsp salt. Let sit for 10 mins, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Mix with 2 tbsp of sugar and 3 tbsp of Red Vinegar and serve. The combination of red and white, orkohaku, signify happiness and celebration in Japan.
Nutritional information: N/A



Producer:Yoshida Furusato VIllage

Nothing will make you feel like a child again like a warm sweet bowl ofzenzai. Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert soup made withazuki (sweet beans) and plump hotmochi (glutinous rice). Unique to this zenzai is the mix of 16 different grains, providing wholesome tastes and textures.

Yoshida Furusato Village is rooted in Yoshida Town in Shimane Prefecture, a mountainous coastal prefecture in the western part of Japan's Honshu Island. Yoshida Town once flourished as the center of Japanese steel production, but lost most of its population with the introduction of modern steelmaking. With the help of funding from governments, enterprises and even local citizens (the youngest was 24 years old and the eldest who was 85 years old), Yoshida Furusato Village began growing organic agricultural products to help reinvigorate the abandoned town. The total cultivation area is now 180 acres and they do all their weeding by hand with the help of local aunts and uncles.

Ingredients:Mochi rice (Shimane Prefecture), sugar (beet sugar),azuki (red beans) (Shimane Prefecture), 16 kinds of mixed cereals (mochi brown rice, naked barley, germ pressed barley, glutinous wheat, young brown rice, glutinous black rice, glutinous millet, glutinous red rice, pearl barley, green soybean, awa millet, black soybean, yellow soybean, azuki bean, Japanese millet, corn), salt
Suggested use:Transfer the contents of the bag to a heat-resistant container, cover and heat in the microwave for 1½ -2 mins (500W). 
Nutritional information: Per: 100g, Calories: 144kcal, Total Fat: 0.5g, Sodium: 0.1g, Total Carbohydrate: 31.8g, Protein: 2.7g



The tradition ofoobukucha (Japanese New Year’s Good Luck Tea) began in the Heian period when an epidemic hit Kyoto. A priest from the Rokuharamitsuji Temple held a memorial service and drank tea as a blessing for good health and protection.  

This variety of oobukucha combines green tea with two other traditional flavors from Japan:umeboshi (pickled plums) and sour pickledkombu (kelp). Irokuen only offers this special New Year’s celebration tea during the winter months. Based in Kyoto, a region famous for its green tea, Irokuen has been producing high-quality tea for over 200 years. 

Ingredients:Green tea,umeboshi (plum, shiso, salt), pickledkombu (kelp, salt) 
Suggested uses:Steep in boiled water to your preferred strength.
Nutritional information: N/A


Producer:Kodama Ikiiki Farm

After indulging over New Year’s, many Japanese enjoy a simple bowl ofnanakusa gayu (seven herb rice porridge) on January 7th to give their stomachs a chance to reset. Although finding these seven traditional herbs outside of Japan is nearly impossible, this dried mixture allows you to taste these unique Japanese mountain herbs grown in the countryside of Fukuyama city in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Ingredients:Daikon (radish) leaves (from Japan), salt,suzuna (turnip) leaves (from Hokkaido),hakobera (chickweed) (domestic),seri (water dropwort) (domestic),nazuna (shepherd’s purse) (from Hokkaido),hotokenoza (nipplewort) (from Hokkaido),gokyo (cudweed) (from Hokkaido)
Suggested uses:Add to miso soup, as a topping on egg dishes like omelettes and scrambled eggs, or in theNanakusa Gayu (Seven Herb Rice Porridge) recipe included.
Nutritional information: N/A




How to use: To use the pen, remove the top brush part of the pen and discard the yellow pieces (cap and ring). Replace the brush and hold the pen with the point facing down to allow the ink to flow into the tip. Do not press hard when writing. Place a blank page over the written calligraphy and trace the characters with your brush pen starting from the top right and working your way down, then moving to the next column to the left.

Shakyo is an ancient Buddhist practice of hand-tracing sutras that has existed for thousands of years. It is a means of meditation to focus the mind through silence and concentration. At transition between this year and the next, a moment of quiet and contemplation through shakyo can help clear one’s mind and start the year fresh.

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