According to the weather people, in the past twenty years, this winter has been the worst. A record snowfall is hampering many areas along the Japan Sea Coast. One area has had over 340cm. (11 ft.) within the last month! Being from Hawaii, snow is quite a novelty, but snow to that degree is a bit frightening. For one, I don't have the correct shoes, so slipping on the snow is very dangerous.
Today is the 7th of January. It is a significant day because you eat a rice porridge (o-kayu)with 7 different grasses in it as a way to wish for good health throughout the year called Haru no Nanakusagayu. (Haru no= Spring's, Nana = 7, kusa = grasses, kayu = rice porridge).
In the olden days of Japan, they thought that birds from China brought diseases with them to Japan, so in order to ward off these diseases, they ate this porridge. I think they made the day to eat the porridge on the 7th because it is the first 7th day of the year (01/07) = January 7th (easy to remember??), plus it is the 7-grasses porridge...hmm.
The 7 grasses are: seri (parsley), nazuna (shepard's purse), gokyou (cotton weed), hakobera (chickweed), hotokenoza (like dandelion), suzuna (like turnip), and suzushiro (like radish).
<---It comes in a package like this. You wash all the grasses and parboil until the leaves wilt. Then chop up and add to your porridge. The porridge has the consistency of oatmeal, but you could make your porridge more liquidy if you like. It tastes like you added spinach to your un-sweetened oatmeal.
There is also Natsu no Nanakusa (Summer's 7 grasses), Aki no Nanakusa (Autumn's 7 grasses) and Fuyu no Nanakusa. During these seasons, the grasses aren't put into a porridge, instead they are used in flower arrangements.
I served our porridge with some leftover salmon patties.