The ushering in of a new year means, among other things, that many will again partake in the eating of kagami mochi ("mirror-shaped rice cakes"), a traditional new year's food in Japan.
Kagami mochi (鏡餅) consists of a pair of mochi patties rounded into discs and stacked on top of each other and topped by a daidai, a type of mikan. This is the basic construction, but there are sometimes many other additions to the kagami mochi, each with its own meaning.
But usually, in its simplest form, kagami mochi consists of two mounds though three are used in some areas.
Traditionally, kagami mochi was made entirely from natural ingredients but the modern age has brought with it a type of kagami mochi with a plastic outer shell and plastic daidai, with a simple block of mochi on the inside. These are the types often found in supermarkets, though it is still possible to get the traditional type, which is molded into shape and stacked by hand.
Kagami mochi is placed in the home at family altars or, very often, at the entrance of the home, not unlike a religious offering.
It's not eaten immediately, but broken open after the new year begins on a special day called Kagami Biraki, which usually falls on January 11th. On that day many families cook mochi infused dishes such as Oshiruko, a red-bean soup with mochi inside.
© Jason Coskrey & JapanVisitor.com
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