Just what is the purpose of this thing that looks like a snowman that you often find in supermarkets and stores around the end of the year?

At the supermarket Huh? What's this? A snowman? Is it edible? This is called kagami mochi! It's a kind mochi (rice cake) that is presented as an offering to the gods during New Year's celebration in order to pray for a good new year.   Of course, before it is offered, it needs some decoration!

The custom of putting up kagami mochi seems to have already existed during the Heian period (From approx. 1185 to 1192). The two round mochi piled on top of each other are a symbol of the new year smoothly following up the old one. According to formal customs, the following decorations listed below should to be added to the mochi.

Kagami Mochi Decorations  Paper fan, Orange, Mizuhiki, Square red paper, Gohei, Sannbou Decoration! It's being enjoyed by the Gods, Kagami-biraki  The kagami mochi will be put out at home or at the workplace starting from December 28 (a lucky day).  In the Kanto region, it is believed that the Gods come to enjoy it on January 7.  On January 11 the decoration is taken down. This is the day of "Kagamibiraki".  I see.

Generally speaking, most people will put the kagami mochi near entrances where guests as well as Gods enter, or in the living room or other places where home shrines are usually placed.

ENTRANCE, LIVING ROOM, KAMIDANA

However, depending on what is being prayed for, it will be placed in a different location.

BEDROOM, TOILET, STOVE OR KITCHEN  For calling the Gods that watch over housewives.   To protect women who are about to give birth.   To pray for the safety of the entire family for the coming year. SMASH!  Then on January 11, the kagami mochi gets smashed into little bits in order to make prepare some mochi based dishes.  Fried Mochi, Shiruko (Sweet bean soup), Zoni In the traditional formal ceremony the kagami mochi is smashed with a wooden hammer but these days it is common for families to buy vacuum packed mochi at the supermarket and open it using scissors on the day of Kagamibiraki.

Besides being the real thing being put on display, the kagami mochi is also often depicted on New year greeting cards or on end of the year gifts (such as towels) or packaging as a symbol of good luck. If you are in Japan near the end of the year, it might be a nice idea to pick up a kagami mochi illustrated souvenir as a way to enter the new year with the best of luck.

Please click here for the mimi@MaDeLa's Article

→ Read more articles of Traditional Culture

→ Read more articles of Manga de Japan