DC to Japan, Learning Japanese

Learning About Kagamimochi and Other Oshogatsu Traditions

Good afternoon and happy Monday everyone! I’m excited to share my DC KawaiiStyle culture & eats adventure from Sunday but that’s for another post. First thing’s first! 💗 I share this about kagami mochi and other oshogatsu traditions as I was (actively) learning about them in my Japanese sessions earlier this month. While the first three days of the new year are the most important in Japanese culture, Japanese New Year is celebrated for about two weeks, traditionally ending at Seiji no Hi (or Coming of Age Day) when it was celebrated on the 15th of January, marking the beginning of koshogatsuor little new year (lunar new year).

A lot of times I use Hello Talk and LINE (my user ID on those accounts is jetadoreIKB if you’d like to be friends there and learn together ^^) my langauge exchange friends will share more about Japanese traditions and customs. We talk a lot about my love for Edo period Japan and old Japanese culture and traditions. So things like Oshogatsu history are right up my alley! It’s just taken a while to be more hands on in my learning about these particular customs.

My long time language exchange friend, Satsuki-san loves practicing her English and sharing traditions with me. She was super excited to share about her osechi ryori (お節料理 → おせちおせちりょうり) so we talked more about many traditions and the ones she enjoys best for our New Year’s chat exchange. 🙂

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Of course with these (and other) traditions, as I learn and understand more, I will share more. =^.^=

Oshogatsu is also my sensei’s FAVORITE time of year. She asked that I illustrate kadomatsu and kagami mochi in my style since those would be things we would leisurely talk about this month. You can view those here.

I remembered finding kagami mochi in my local Japanese market (Hana Market) and decided to grab some this year … and a kadomatsu if they had one (an~nd they didn’t *womp womp*). Chika sensei wanted one too but they ran out so we were going to share my mochi.

Laughing she said that it was not time to open the mochi and we also have to grill it to make it edible. Pardon my ignorance to mochi but I only eat mochi ice cream actually (so please no judging ^^). I understood needing to prepare the mochi I did NOT know there was a designated day to eat kagami mochi in specific. Honestly, I assumed that it would be eaten within the first three days but that is before I knew you have to cook it. It’s customary to make osechi so that you do not cook within the first three days of the new year. So since that theory’s crushed we had to do some research. According to our findings, it’s customary to eat kagami mochi as Shinto ritual on the second Saturday or Sunday of January. This is called kagami biraki (鏡開→ かがみびらき) or mirror opening.

Another thing that I was curious about as I observed my kagami mochi packaging was the ties, or mizuhiki (水引→ まずひき).


Mizuhiki strings are made of paper. The strings are treated with a watery paste so they harden into a cord (“mizu” means water or watery). A dye is added to the paste to give the cords color. The colors of the cord and the method of knotting the cord has symbolic meaning.

  • Gold and silver cord signifies a high-class/quality event.
  • Red and white signifies a happy, good-luck event.
  • Black and white cord is used for funeral or burial ceremonies.

I knew they had to mean something. It seems like ALL of the finer details about life in Japanese culture mean something. That’s why I enjoy exploring this culture past my fandoms so much … if you were wondering. LOL And I wasn’t wrong! *boop*

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Both ties here are from kagami mochi. The mostly pink mizuhiki is an ume mizuhiki. Ume means plum so I’m almost positive you can put this meaning together on your own. ^^ The other is a traditional oshogatsu is an awajimusubi (淡路結び → あわじむすび) knot.


AboutAwajimusubi knot ♡ this knot is loosely wound into loops. If you pull at the ends of the cord, the loops will be smaller and closer together. This type of knot is used to symbolize “growing together”; for example, in a business partnership or an engagement. Knot can be used for sad events such as get well wishes because it involves growing better. Origami Center


I want to explore more in these traditions, but time for celebrating oshogatsu is pretty much done! My goals for next year include learning one more tradition … nengajo is fun! I received a lot and never got a chance to return the sentiment or pay it forward, so that may be a thing I’ll do with blog followers, friends, family, and clients. I may also try a kadomatsu D.I.Y. arrangement. We’ll see!

For my own research and to keep my visual stimulation going, I created an Oshogatsu pinterest page. Feel free to follow along! I hope you enjoyed this and learned something new. I know I did! ❤

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