Japan is a truly beautiful country. When you think of Japan, you not only think of the natural landscape, but you think also of the fashion, you think of the architecture and the unique art.

You also think of the cuisine! Miso soup, udon and soba noodles, seasonal vegetables and sashimi are just a a handful of the multitude of dishes found in Japanese food.

Today, we will focus on learning more about Osechi Ryori, and what makes it such a delicious culinary tradition in Japan.

Based on ancient methods of preserving food such as in salt or vinegar or by simmering in sweetened soy sauce and sake, Osechi Ryori is a traditional style of cooking to celebrate the first three days of the New Year.

Vegetables are an important part of this cuisine, as well as grilled tai (sea bream) and buri, which are different types of fish. The prepared morsels are neatly placed with great care into gorgeous lacquered boxes called jubako. Colors such as red, pink and white that are considered to be lucky are included in the food. The menu is prepared with symbolic meaning such as kazunoko (herring roe, literally meaning “many children”), renkon (lotus root, a Buddhist symbol), sweet kuromame (black beans, symbolizing fertility) and tai (sea bream, symbolizing celebration).

Modern times leave little time for such elaborate cuisine, and it’s no suprise that many of the Japanese population buy ready-made Osechi Ryori from the better kaiseki restaurants. These stunning packaged meals, like super-gourmet bento, can be ordered ahead of time and arrive in lacquered, wooden, or plastic boxes, depending on the price. These can even be as pricey as $3,000 from acclaimed restaurants such as Kitcho in Kyoto, but even the most modest variety costs around $300.

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