Down-Home Cooking on New Year’s Day Morning.

Mochi is made by grinding glutinous rice into paste which is then molded into easy to eat cakes, and is an indispensable part of a traditional New Year’s menu.

Mochi is also used as an offering for gods and spirits, and we eat a portion of that as a sort of good luck charm.
Eaten as part of a traditional breakfast on New Year’s Day, mochi are eaten in a broth flavored with miso and soy sauce.

Zoni is eaten almost everywhere in Japan, and eaten in a fascinating variety of ways, with the precise ingredients varying from region to region and household to household. Because of this, zoni is often used when giving examples of regional cuisine.


Zoni of  Niigata prefecture

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Zoni of  Tokyo prefecture
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Zoni of  Kyoto prefecture
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Regions that use soy-sauce based broth and square mochi are the most numerous, but in Kansai Region, a white-miso based broth and round mochi are used.

Many people who live in the city return to the homes they grew up in for New Year, to taste the zoni that their family has made as long as they can remember.
It’s interesting to talk with friends from other regions about what the zoni was like in their households. You might learn that things are different where your father is from, or about all the different variations you can find in different households, or about how a household’s roots can be expressed through its zoni.
Right now, out of all of those variations, I’d like to take a minute to introduce our zoni here in Niigata. (Which is to say, I haven’t really had a chance to sample other zoni, so…)
Niigata’s zoni has a hearty texture from ingredients like fish, kamaboko (balls of cooked fish-paste), and root vegetables. It’s a rich zoni, which is often topped with ikura (salmon roe) before eating. The combination of seafood lets you really get a sense for what coastal Niigata has to offer.
Is there anything you would like to try and eat from amongst these Japanese New Year dishes?
Thank you so much for reading and till next time!