Why Japanese people eat Nanakusa-Gayu?

January 7, 2014 Juju Kurihara Cooking, Culture, Custom, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

nanakusa gayuOn the 7th of January, Japanese people traditionally eat Nanakusa-gayurice porridge with seven spring herbs. Main reason is to rest the stomach after eating Osechi Ryouri during the new year and to get some vitamins by eating fresh green herbs in winter. This custom started in Japan in Heian perido (平安時代 794-1192) from China. It was a soup with seven fresh herbs and ancient Japanese people added some rice in it. Since then they eat Nanakusa-gayu for a good health during the year.


Seven herbs you add in the porridge are Seri (セリ/ Japanese parsley)Nazuna (ナズナ/ shepherd's-purse), Gogyou (ゴギョウ/ Jersey Cudweed), Hakobera (ハコベラ/ Stellaria), Hotoke no za (ホトケノザ/ Henbit Deadnettle)Suzuna (スズナ/ Turnip)Suzushiro (スズシロ/ Daikon)

Each herb has its effect.

Seri – It´s rich in iron. seri
Nazuna – It helps to low high temperature and has a diuretic effect.  nazuna
Gogyou – It helps stopping cough and phlegm and has a diuretic effect. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Hakobera – It´s rich in protein and minerals. hakobera
Hotokenoza – It helps improving the health. hotokenoza
Suzuna –  It improves bad digestion. suzuna
Suzushiro – It also helps improving bad digestion. suzushiro


I´m always amazed by the wisdom of ancient people. Before science became so common, how did they know about nutrition? When I was small, I loved to read the book about Gnome that my father had. It showed how Gnomes treat illnesses with herbs, which was my favourite part of the book. I believe the power of the nature maybe because of this book. I prefer home or natural remedies and believe a balanced nutrition from the food before getting it by tablets or injections.  


The 7th of January is also the day of nail cutting (爪切りの日/ Tsumekiri no Hi). It was the day people cut their nails for the first time of the year. People would put their fingers in the water with Nanakusa to soften and cut them by believing it would protect them from getting cold. It´s an interesting concept.


So you are ready for having Nanakusa-gayu tonight? The best rice porridge is cooked with a clay pot like the photo above. But anything would do. Wish you a healthy year. 



More about New Year



Happy New Year

New Year decorations



Eat porridge

Seijin no Hi


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