New Year Decoration – Kagami Mochi [鏡餅]
Kagami mochi [鏡餅] is decorative food specially for the New Year. It consists of 2 glutinous rice balls with a mandarin orange on top. (image right)
Kagami mochi was used to be made at home, but nowadays most people buy it at the supermarket.
It is displayed (offered to gods) inside the house, in the alcove [Toko no ma], Kamidana [small household Shinto altar], kitchen, individual rooms and at the entrance for Toshigami [the god of the coming year], which is believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year.
*Kagami mochi [鏡餅] literally means mirror [kagami / 鏡] + rice cake [mochi / 餅].
Rice Cutting Ceremony – Kagami Biraki [鏡開き]
Kagami biraki is a traditional new year’s ceremony held on January 11th.
Praying for good luck and happiness in the new year, the kagami mochi displayed (offered to the gods) over the new year holidays is removed and eaten. Many Japanese eat kagami mochi as Zōni [雑煮 / rice cake in vegetable soup] or Zenzai [善哉 / rice cake in sweet red beans soup].