The first meal of the year in a Japanese family is an important one. It is traditional that the extended family eat osechi together for breakfast. Check out Wikipedia for more information about osechi including the meaning behind some of the food.
Traditionally a housewife had a couple of days off at the beginning of the new year (Oh wouldn't that be nice!!) so all the cooking was done in the lead up to the new year (Okay maybe maybe not so good, working a lot of overtime just to get a day or two off!). As a result the foods are pickled with salt, sugar and vinegar in quantities that you can't imagine!! It includes a lot of seafood and a lot of root veggies. Personally there isn't much there that I like. Some people buy prepackaged boxed sets, others just buy the bits they like from the supermarket and others make their own.
I've only celebrated the New Year with my inlaws twice, my mother in law cooked everything from scratch both times. We usually just buy chestnuts and black beans and I cook a endless amounts of mochi. I let hubby choose whatever he wants to eat, no-one else ever wants to share his choices!!!
This year however we went to Tokyo for a couple of days over the holiday taking advantage of the reduced population :) We stayed in a hotel and the hotel put on osechi banquet for breakfast in the main dining hall. It was really impressive to see everyone sitting together. I was quite worried because I don't eat seafood, the smell gets to me, what was I going to eat!! and the kids!! This was our osechi breaky
It was quite a simple meal as far as osechi is concerned and was very edible. I passed on the octopus (red stuff at the front) and the fish (it was cold and tough, even the old guys beside me said it was hard to eat). The small black bowl had nimono (boiled root veggies) in it, and there was also fruit to the left. Not exactly breakfast food for me but I survived and I am grateful that it wasn't too weird!!!
What did you have for your first meal of the new year, anything special?