Investing in kagami mochi

Recently they setup a big display for kagami-mochi (鏡餅) at the Uwajimaya Japanese import store near work. I often stop by there for banking or culinary needs, as well as getting study material for the JLPT in the Kinokuniya store next door. So, I went one day to get some cash, and walked past this huge stack of red and gold boxes, which I vaguely recognized from Japan during my last visit around New Year’s. Curious, I decided to spend a little cash and picked one up:

Kagami mochi for new year

Kagami-mochi is a traditional ornament in Japanese homes during the New Year, as it has a lot of auspicious symbolism related to Shinto. The round-shaped stack of mochi (餅) rice-cakes tied with a shimenawa (注連縄) has various interpretations, all of them positive. The little orange on the top is a bitter orange, or daidai (橙), which sounds like the word dai (代) as in “generation”. Often you can see cut bamboo, another auspicious symbol. Lastly the kagami-mochi is adorned with small white paper strips shaped like lightning, called gohei (御幣), a very common motif used in Shinto. You can always see gohei in Shinto shrines and even on the belts of Sumo wrestlers.

Our kagami-mochi was only $10, so it’s pretty basic. Even the orange is plastic. :-p

But I was real happy to get it, as it was the first such item my wife and I ever purchased, and since we purchased a new home, it seemed like a good way to start our new life in the house. It sits on a bookshelf now nicely. Normally kagami-mochi are supposed to go into small home Shinto altars, or kamidana (神棚), like the one my in-laws have at home, but we don’t have something like that. We are not in a hurry to get one either as her family is more Buddhist than Shinto. So, for us, a high spot on a bookshelf is a nice place to put it. :)

Here’s the finished product, though not on the shelf due to bad lighting:

Finished kagami mochi

Enjoy!

P.S. For amusement, here is another picture I took of the box at work, showing all the computer books on my desk I never read. ;-p

P.P.S. For the photo at home, I just noticed of my little girl’s broken Anpanman toys is peeking up on the left-side. Too funny. The batteries need replacing, so it’s sitting on the counter for now.



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