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“Nanakusa-gayu,” a Healthy Japanese New Year Dish

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2022.01.06 (Thu)

By Charlotte, long-term Tokyo resident & history-loving traveler

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you had a great time during the New Year’s celebrations. Many of you may have feasted on lots of delicious foods during Christmas and New Year's Day. Today, I would like to introduce the “nanakusa-gayu,” a healthy Japanese New Year dish that is perfect for giving your stomach its well-deserved rest.

In Japan, the New Year festivities mainly last from January 1st to 3rd, during which most people are on holiday and will have feasts with family and close relatives. The “Nanakusa-gayu” is a traditional Japanese porridge eaten as a wish for sound health a bit later after the main festivities, on the morning of January 7th. As the name implies in Japanese, ‘nanakusa’ literally means 7 types of vegetables, which are the ingredients of this dish. ‘Nanakusa’ is composed of vegetables with a range of different medicinal properties and nutrition, namely “water celery” that improves appetite, “shepherd's purse” that restores balance to the digestive system and is also good for the eyes, “cudweed” that helps with coughs, “henbit” that is said to be effective for curing atopy, “chickweed” that is believed to heal cut wounds and dental plaques, “turnip” that helps relieve constipation, and “radish” that is believed to be a potent medicine for colds.

Every year, the Otori Shrine in Taito City hosts a nanakusa-gayu soup kitchen on January 7th as part of their New Year events. The nanakusa-gayu soup kitchen will be held this year and while it is forbidden to eat on the shrine grounds, as a coronavirus prevention measure, you may put the steaming hot nanakusa-gayu in a cup and take it home with you.

Why not have the winter comfort food, nanakusa-gayu, for breakfast tomorrow?

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