Japanese Home Cooking Class in Tokyo. YUCa's Food & Lifestyle Media from Japan

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  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 12(Mon) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 15(Thu) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 20(Tue) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 21(Wed) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 27(Tue) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

  • Yuka's Japanese Cooking
    2-34-8, Nishiogu116-0011
    Dec 30(Fri) 10:00-12:30

    Ramen & Gyoza

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Annual Events and Food in Japan

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Annual Event & Festive Food In Japan

1st – Shogatsu (New Year) : Osechi(-ryori), Fukubukuro, Shimekazari
7th – Nanakusa no Sekku (Seventh-Day New Year) : Nanakusa gayu
11th – Kagami Biraki (Opening the Rice-Cake Offerings) : Oshiruko
15th – Koshogatsu (Small Shogatsu) : Red bean rice porridge
20th – Hatsuka shogatsu : Ozoni

3rd – Setsubun (Seasonal Division) : Ehomaki
8th – Harikuyo (Memorial Service for Needles) : Tofu
10th – Hatsu-uma : Inarizushi

3rd – Hinamatsuri/Momo no Sekku (Doll Festival ) : Chirashizushi
21st – Ohigan (Spring Equinox) : Botamochi

Hanami (Cherry-Blossom Viewing) : Sakuramochi, Dango
8th – Hanamatsuri (Flower Festival)

5th – Tango no sekku,(Children’s Day) : Kashiwa-mochi, Chimaki

Koromogae (Seasonal Change of Clothing)
Around 10th – Nyu-bai : Plum syrup, Umeboshi

7th – Tanabata (Star Festival) : Somen

15th – Obon (Bon Festival) : Vegetable Tempura, Rice Dumplings, Udon, Inari Sushi

15th – Otsukimi (Moon Viewing) : Tsukimi Dango
Ohigan, Autumn Equinox : Ohagi

19th – Choyo no Sekku (Chrysanthemum Festival) : Kiku-zake, Kikuka-cha, Kiku-monaka  *Sept.9 on Lunar Calendar
Undokai, Sports Festival : Bento
Ensoku, School Excursion : Bento

15th – Shichigosan (Seven-Five-Three Festival) : Osekihan, Chitose-ame, Tai no Shio-yaki

13th – Toshikoshi (Crossing over to a New Year)
Around 22nd or 23rd – Toji (Winter Solstice) : Azuki-gayu, Pumpkin
31st – Omisoka (Last day of the year) : Toshikoshi soba

Japanese Baby and Child Celebrations

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Fifth Month of Pregnancy :
Obi-Iwai (Obi-tying ceremony)

After labor & delivery:
Hospitalization for 5 to 7 days

7th day after birth:
Meimei Shiki (Naming ceremony)
Oshichiya (The 7th night after birth)

14th day after birth:
Birth registration

1 month after birth:
Omiya-mairi (Visit to the shrine)

3 months after birth (100 days after birth):
Okuizome (Weaning ceremony)

5 months after birth (150 days after birth):
Weaning begins

First festival after birth:
First New Year’s Day
First Doll’s Festival (3/3 for girls, 5/5 for boys)

First birthday:
Aruki iwai (Celebration of walking)
Tanjou mochi/Chikara mochi/Tachi mochi
Erabitori

Age 3:
Shichi-Go-San (3 years old-girl)

Age 4:
Entrance ceremony (also for 3 year olds)

Age 5:
Shichi-Go-San (for 5 year old boys)

Age 6:
Graduation ceremony
Entrance ceremony

Age 7:
Shichi-Go-San (7-year-old girl)

Age 12:
Graduation ceremony

Age 13:
Jusan mairi (13-year-old girl)

Oshichiya (The 7th Night After Giving Birth)

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Every region has a custom to hold some kind of celebration on the night that falls on the seventh day after the baby is born, which is called the “Oshichiya” (お七夜).

In the past, relatives, neighbors, matchmakers, godparents, midwives, and others were invited to a feast, where the baby’s name was announced and the baby was recognized as a member of society for the first time.

This is a remnant of this tradition, and this gathering  is also known as the “celebration of naming called “Meimei Shiki“(命名式).

How to celebrate the Oshichiya

The standard celebration meal for Oshichiya is a red rice (sekihan) served with a fish head. Other auspicious items such as kombu (kelp) and red and white fu (wheat gluten) are also used, but they vary from region to region. You may also serve simmered dishes, sashimi, etc. according to the taste of the guests.

Since it is impossible for the mother to prepare the food for the Oshichiya, it is common to ask the grandparents to help, or to have the food catered.

It would be a pity to take a seven-day-old baby out to a large gathering, so it is best to put the baby in a separate room and allow the guests to see him or her before the feast begins.

Who to invite to the seventh day

The seventh day of life is the time when the mother and the baby are discharged from the hospital, and the mother is easily exhausted. Therefore, today, it is common to invite only the grandparents from both sides of the family for an informal celebration.

If you are invited to the seventh night

Although there is no specific custom, it is a good idea to bring a gift of some kind. It is common to bring a bouquet of flowers, a cake, sake, fruit, a small toy, or baby items.

 

 

Memo:
Are you interested in more about Japanese culture & events? Check here!

Koromogae (Seasonal Change of Clothing) 衣替え

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As the seasons change from spring to summer, people put away their warmer clothing and take out their lighter, thinner clothing. Some families even use different furniture and household utensils.

Although things have changed considerably from the days when kimonos were worn every day, the custom of changing clothes according to the season still continues.

Schools and workplaces with uniforms also have the custom of changing clothes. Jackets are removed, tops are changed from long-sleeved to short-sleeved, and bottoms are made of light, breathable fabrics such as linen. Also, depending on the industry, many workplaces are encouraging employees to wear no-ties or casual clothes to work only during this time of the year.

In very olden days, it was the custom at the royal court to change into summer attire on April 1 of the lunar calendar and back into winter on October 1. In later years, the Shogun issued precise regulations regarding dress to all samurai and ladies of the court. Commomn people as well were bound by the regulations.

During the Meiji period, the government established official dates for the seasonal change of clothing. To this day, it is still general practive to change from winter to summer clothes on June 1 and back to winter on October 1.

Seasonal Changes in the House

  • Yoshido (葦戸) : Sliding door made of reeds
  • Hanagoza (花茣蓙):Colorful rush matting to lay on top of tatami
  • Kayari (蚊遣り) : Mosquito coils burn in holders of various shapes
  • Uchiwa (団扇) : Round flat fan
  • Kaya (蚊帳) : Mosquito netting is rarely used in Japan nowadays but until dairly recently people slept under these nets during summer.
  • Natsu-noren (夏暖簾) : Noren are long divided curtains often hung in the entryways of shops and restaurants. During the summer, many shop owners noren made of linen or other light babrics.

Memo:
Are you interested in more about Japanese culture & events? Check here!

Meimei Shiki (Naming Ceremony)

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In the past, it was common for respected people or relatives with longevity to be godparents, or for fathers and grandfathers to name their babies, but these days, with the trend toward nuclear families, parents are more likely to name their babies.

How Parents Decide The Name?

In the past, people often used the family name as a reference for naming their children, but nowadays people tend to focus more on the ease of calling (sound) and the image of the Chinese characters.

However, there are cases where grandparents or relatives place great importance on the family name judgment and cannot be ignored. Since surname and name determination is based on the balance of characters with the family name, the range of names is limited. (My mother, for example, bought books and did careful research.)

Once a potential name is chosen, the parents check the name from various angles for any flaws. It is important to note that some kanji cannot be used for names. The only kanji that can be used are the Joyo Kanji and Kanji for personal names. Since the reading is free, some parents give a reading that is somewhat close in sound and meaning to the kanji.

Recent Name Trends

The most popular names in 2021 were “蓮”(REN) for a boy and “陽葵”(HIMARI) for a girl. REN was the 1st for 4 consecutive years and HIMARI was 1st for 6 consecutive years!!!

As the effects of the COVID situation continue to be felt, there seems to be a growing trend among both men and women to choose names that are more solid and reassuring than those that are varied and novel.

Another name, “AOI,” ranked first in the common reading for both boy and girl, is a popular gender-free name.

Meimei Shiki (Naming Ceremony)

Parents usually decide their newborn’s name until the 7th day after the birth. This is because they used to invite their family and relatives and hold special dinner gathering/party. At this event, parents announce their baby’s name for the first time and put the paper with their baby’s name on the wall to show everyone.

Nowadays, parents and their family (including relatives) live apart because of lifestyle and also for work situation. So, it’s not so easy to coordinate this gathering after the child birth. Modern parents usually celebrate this event only for themselves these days. Same as this situation, my husband and I had casual lunch with my parents on the day I came back home from hospital. (After lunch, I went asleep to get recovered…zzz)
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Obi Iwai (Obi-Tying Ceremony)

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In Japan, when a woman reaches the fifth month of pregnancy, she wears an abdominal belt called an “Iwata Obi” (岩田帯) in hopes of an easy delivery.

It was worn every day until the day the baby was born, but these days few people actually wear one, even though some buy one for celebratory purposes.

Nowadays, instead of belly bands, people wear girdles or belly wraps, which are convenient for taking off the belt.

And the first day to wrap the girdle is called the Obi Celebration, which is the day of the dog in the fifth month of pregnancy.

(In the lunar calendar, each of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac is distributed on a different day of the month, so there are two or three Dog Days in a month.)

Dogs are said to be fertile and to have an easy delivery, so the dog day is probably because of the desire to be named after them.

In the past, belly bands were usually sent with dried bonito flakes and sake from the family of the expectant mother, after prayers for safe delivery had been offered at a nearby shrine or temple.

It may also be given by a matchmaker or a close couple blessed with a child.

The gift varies from region to region, such as a bleached cotton with the words Kotobuki or Inu (dog) written in red, or a talisman tucked into the obi.

Since it is a lucky charm, it may be appropriated in the form of a token, which can then be purchased at shrines or department stores that offer prayers for easy childbirth.

In my case, there is a famous shrine called Kishimojin in my neighborhood, so I went there to pray for a safe delivery. At that time, I bought a belly band.

During my pregnancy, I wore a girdle-style one, both with my first son and when I gave birth to my first daughter.


Memo :
1. Are you looking for baby food making items? Visit our shop!
2. To make Japanese baby foods, please check recipe tutorials!
3. To know more about Japanese culture, please check Events & Food Culture

Children’s Day (Tango no sekku) 端午の節句

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Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5th, and it is part of Golden Week Holidays. The day was originally called “Tango no Sekku”, or Boy’s Festival, was celebrated in order to wish the healthy growth of the boys in the family.

Outside of their houses, families with boys fly large carp streamers called “Koinobori”. Inside they display various kinds of warrior dolls or ornamental helmets called Kabuto because they are believed to be symbols of strength and vitality. At night, people put iris leaves and roots in the bath. It is believed that it will purge noxious vapor.

In 1948, this day was designated a national holiday and renamed “Children Day”. It is now a day for boys and girls to celebrate together.

Traditional foods such as “kashiwa-mochi” and “chimaki” are eaten on that day. Kashiwamochi is steamed dumplings filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in oak leaves. Oak trees don’t drop their leaves until new shoots have begun to appear. The leaved represents the wish for continuation of the family line and are thus an auspicious part of these traditional sweets.

Chimaki is also dumplings made of glutinous rice, wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied with a piece of rush. This type of sweets came from China and is seen in various forms around Japan.

Iris leaves and roots are also used in baths. It is believed that putting iris leaves and roots in the bath can ward off evil spirits.


Koinobori (Carp Streamers, こいのぼり) sold at the store. During the Edo period, common people began to make banners in the shape of carp because according to an old Chinese legend, there was a carp which swam upstream all the way to heaven and turned into a dragon. Parents who want their sons to grow up strong and brave so to this day, in the month of May people have continued the practice of flying koinobori. They are usually seen with the streamers on top and the black,  red and blue carps below.


During this season in very olden times, from about the 7th century, people observed customs which had come from China. May was thought to be an unlucky month so in order to drive away evil spirits, ordinary working people picked certain plants which were valued for their medicinal powers and made potions or decorative dolls to hand in the doorways.

In later years, from the Edo period, they began to display warrior dolls, helmets and banners which symbolized people’s hopes that their sons would grow up into strong and brave young men.


This was the most expensive warrior doll set in this shop!


This year, Kengo and Sui took part in the workshop to make koinobori. Their koinobori was so colorful and we all loved it 😍!!!


Memo:
Are you interested in more about Japanese culture & events? Check here!

School Lunches In Japan

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In Japan, school lunches are provided at some kindergartens and almost all nursery schools, elementary schools, and junior high schools.

Both my daughter, who currently attends nursery school, and my son, who attends elementary school, receive school lunches every day.

At my son’s kindergarten, he brought his own spoon & fork and chopsticks, but at my daughter’s nursery school and my son’s elementary school prepare for them. In my son’s case, he now brings his own luncheon mat every day. In addition to this, during the week when he is on school lunch duty, he brings a laundered apron, a triangular hood and a mask every day.

A Japanese school lunch consists of milk, soup, carbohydrate (rice, noodles, bread), main dish, side dish, and fruit.

School lunch menus are prepared by a dietitian, taking into consideration event meals and seasonal ingredients. The menus are then distributed to all students approximately two weeks in advance. The menu list at my son’s elementary school includes a note for each day, which includes information about the producer, ingredients, and trivia about the menu.

At the daycare center where I worked, we also had a 10:00 a.m. snack, so four to five people started cooking at 8:00 a.m. and made snacks & school lunches for about 200 students in less than three hours.

Some of the children needed to eliminate certain foods due to allergies or religious reasons, so I prepared separate school lunches with different cooking methods and ingredients for a few of them. And every day, without fail, the principal tasted and checked the food.

At lunch time, the students would turn their desks around and divide into several groups. (Currently at Corona Disaster, everyone seems to eat facing forward.) 


Students on lunch duty serve the food assigned to them. Students who are not on lunch duty line up in single file and place one dish on each of their trays. 

When lunch duty is over and everyone is seated, they greet each other with “Itadakimasu!” and begin to eat their lunch in unison. The teacher joins the students and eats with them. If there is leftover food, the children who want to eat it play rock-paper-scissors to get it. When they are done eating, the lunch duty person takes the dishes and leftovers to a designated area. After lunch and after school, the whole class cleans up the classroom. This sequence of events is what I consider “Japanese school lunch”.

Ohanami (Cherry Blossom Viewing)

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Hanami is an ancient Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of fleeting flowers. Flowers here refer specifically to cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms bloom throughout Japan from late March to early May. In Okinawa, the warmest part of Japan, cherry blossoms begin to bloom as early as February.

Every year, the Japan Meteorological Agency announces the “cherry blossom front”. Since the cherry blossoms bloom only a week or two apart, people planning to view cherry blossoms are glued to the weather forecast section of TV programs every day.

In modern Japan, hanami is usually held during the day or at night, with a party under the cherry blossoms. In particular, nighttime hanami is known as “yozakura,”(夜桜). In recent years, people have refrained from doing so due to the Corona disaster, but many places usually hang temporary lanterns for nighttime cherry blossom viewing.

Foods traditionally associated with flower viewing are…
– Hanami-dango (Tricolor sweet dumplings on sticks)
– Sakuramochi (Cherry blossom rice dumplings with bean paste on the inside, wrapped in an edible pickled cherry leaf)
– O-hanami-bento (Traditional Flower-Viewing lunch box)

Hinamatsuri (Japanese Doll Festival / Girls’ Festival)

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The 3rd of March is the traditional and representative spring event day called “Hina Matsuri” in Japan.

Hina Matsuri (ひなまつり) is a special time to pray for the growth and happiness of Japanese girls. It is also called “Peach-Blossom Festival” because in olden times, people believed that peach blossoms had special powers to drive away evil spirits. According to the lunar calendar, peach blossoms were in full bloom around March 3. This is the reason that even today peach blossoms are always displayed together with Japanese dolls called Hina Ningyo (ひな人形).


There is a tradition if the baby is a girl, the parents of the mother give a traditional dolls called Hina-kazari (ひな飾り) to their daughter’s family. Hina-kazari is a traditional dolls of Emperor, Empress, their servants and accessories on the tiered stand.

In very ancient times, display stands used to consist of just two or three tiers but over the years they grew more elaborate and gorgeous. I had 7 tier Hina-kazari at my house and my younger brother always tried to climb up. His heroic story is still α hot topic every year among my family. His heroic story is still a hot topic every year.

This day, parents having daughter invite their families and friends to celebrate this event. They display Hina-kazari and serve guests traditional dishes. When I was a child, my family always celebrated the Hina Matsuri together. So, this event reminds me of my childhood every year.

Home Party Menu Ideas

If you are planning to celebrate this Japanese family event, here are the recipes that we prepare here in Japan and also I recommend for home party.

🌸 Main : Chirashizushi (Chirashi Sushi), Cup Chirashi Sushi
🌸 Soup : Hamaguri no osuimono (Cherrystone clam soup)
🌸 Side dish : Potato Salad / Chawanmushi 
🌸 Dessert : Sakura Mochi
 / Hinaarare / Hishimochi
🌸 Drink : Amazake

Do you know this?

It is important to dismantle the display and put away the dolls as soon as the festival is over. The dolls’ faces are covered with special soft paper and each item is carefully wrapped and retuned to its designated box.

People have traditionally believed that if the dolls are kept out for too long after the festival, the daughter of the family will have a hard time getting married. I remember that my mother was rushing to clean up when the Hinamatsuri was over. I hope her annual effort worked!

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