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Nanakusa-gayu (Seven herb rice porridge)

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The evening of January 6 through 7 has the special name of “Seventh-day New Year”. All over Japan people take down heir New Year’s decorations and enjoy various events.

On January 7 in ancient China, people customarily made soup with seven kinds of vegetables as a symbol of their wishes for good health. This custom was introduced to Japan where people already had the custom of eating rice porridge cooked with seven grains on January 15.

These two customs merged and Japanese people started adding seven kinds of spring herbs to make this seven-herb porridge called “Nanakusa-gayu” (七草粥). The original intention is to protect oneself against evils and invite good luck. And to pray for the longevity by eating the seven herbs that endure throughout the winter.


What are the “Seven Spring Herbs” and its meaning?

1. Seri (Japanese parsley) せり: To win the competition
2. Nazuna (Shepherd’s purse) なずな : To cleanse the dirty thing
3. Gogyo (Cottonweed) ごぎょう: Reflects the body of god
4. Hakobera (Chickweed) はこべら : To spread the prosperity
5. Hotokenoza (Henbit) ほとけのざ : Similar shape of lotus position
6. Suzuna (Turnip) すずな : Similar shape of bell that brings god
7. Suzushiro (Japanese radish Daikon) すずしろ : Reflects the purity


How to make Nanakusa-gayu (Seven Herb Rice Porridge)

Ingredients (4 servings) :

1 Seven herbs kit
1/2 Cup (80g) Japanese rice
2 Cup (400ml) Water

Directions: 

1. Peel the turnips and daikon radish and cut into bite-size pieces.
2. Wash other herbs and cut into small pieces.
3. Put rice and water in a pot, cover the lid and heat with high heat.
4. When it starts to boil, turn low heat and add seven herbs.
5. Steam for 10 minutes. Then, turn off the heat.
6. Enjoy with sprinkle of salt, if needed.

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