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Osechi(Japanese traditional New Year’s dish) the origin,the meaning of each ingredient

Osechi is Japanese traditional New Year’s dishes.
Each dish contains meaning associated with the ingredient in it. I’ll introduce some of them.

○herring roe (kazunoko)
It stands for ‘kodakusan’ meaning many children

○sea bream (tai)
It is associated with ‘medetai’ meaning happiness or auspiciousness.

○cooked black soybeans (kuromame)
It wishes for ‘a diligent life’

○coiled kelp (kobumaki)
It stands for ‘yorokobu’ meaning happiness

○lobster or prawn (ebi)
It is for longevity because its body is bent like an old person's.

‘Osechi’ means ‘food offered on occasion ’. 
The beginning of Osechi goes back to Heian period. In those days osechi was provides for blessing happiness and health five times in a year at various festivities.

Today it only refers to the New Year's dishes .

Osechi is usually come in a lacquered boxes called jubako. The lacquered boxes consist of five or four tiers formally. But recently two or three tiers are usual.  The number of family members is decreasing beca…

Enjoy hiking in the marshilands of Oze National Park.

Oze national park, which extends over Gunma, Fukushima and Niigata prefecture, is the largest highland marsh in the mainland of Japan.
Oze national park
It is 1400m above sea level and surrounded with about 2000m high mountains. You can see spectacular sights and rare plants there.

We went on a guided hiking around Ozegahara on a 2-day package from Osaka. I’ll introduce the experience.

We stayed at the hotel near Oze. On the next morning we rode on a micro bus from the hotel to 鳩待峠(Hatomachi Toge Pass)(No.1 in the below map). We arrived there at 9:20.
On the way to 川上川(Kawakami river) we could see wild flowers.

This is エンレイソウ(Trillium).
Trillium
You can see very small sober flower in the center.
This is ショウジョウバカマ(Oriental swamp pink).
Oriental swamp pink
When we visited there the beginning of June, Snow still remained.
Snow still remained
Before cross Kawakami river, there were a lot of ミズバショウ(Asian skunk cabbage) in the marshland.
Asian skunk cabbage in the marshland
The photo as follows is Asian skunk cabbage(the white one) and marsh marigold(the yellow one).
After we crossed Kawakami river, we arrived 山の鼻ビジターセンター(Yamanohana Visitor Center) (2 in the map) at 10:30.
You can get information about Oze Nathonal Park here and you can use toilet (You need chip for use. You had better prepare several 100 yen coins.) .

You can also eat meal or buy snacks here. But during tourist season it is crowded so you had better bring box lunch.

We only took short break here and kept walking.

The mountain we can see in front of the photo below is 燧ケ岳(Hiuchigatake mountain) (2356m height)(B in the map).
We could see many beautiful 水芭蕉(ミズバショウ)along the small stream.
As I looked back, I could see snowcapped 至仏山(Shibutuzan, Mt. Shibutu)(A in the map) (2228m height).
At 牛首分岐(Ushikubi bunki diverging point), we could see Mt. Hiuchigatake as reflected in the water.
We arrived here at 11:05.
I’m not sure but we walked around here for a while.
And we went back to Yamanohana (2 in the map).

On the way going back to Hatomachi Toge Pass(1 in the map), we could see beautiful Asian skunk cabbages again.
I don’t remember well but we may have eaten our box lunch at Yamanohana.

When we visited there, it was sunny day, but mountain climate is usually changeable. So if you are planning to come to Oze National Park, check Oze hiking guide and prepare enough.(official site: https://www.oze-fnd.or.jp/en/)

If you start hiking from Hatomachi Toge Pass(1 in the map) and use a private car, you can’t go Hatomachi Toge Pass directly. You have to get off your car and change to shuttle bus(a fee). Please check detailed information in official site.

Oze’s best season is from the end of March to the beginning of summer. And you can enjoy Oze’s maple at September and autumn leaves at October.

If you are interested in ニッコウキスゲ (yellow alpine lilies) as below, you should go from the middle of July to the end of July at Ozegahara(2,3,4,5,6 in the map).
But the best time is slightly different every year so please check by yourself.

Recently there are some guided package tours in English. I think guided package tour is one of good choices because it is convenient and safe.

Have a nice trip.


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