Today is the day when tradition has it we should eat our nana-kusa. While these plants are often translated as the "seven herbs of spring", it would be a lot more accurate to call them the seven herbs of mid-winter, as there are a couple of months to go of chilly-to-freezing weather until spring really arrives.
Whatever the season, they are supposed to be VERY good for you. So good that just blogging about them will keep you healthy for a year!
This was the counter display at a little ryoriya we visited on the final day of last year…
And this was the explanation of the various plants that was hanging on the display:
The exact composition of the nana-kusa varies according to local tradition -- and often different names are used for the same herb. These are the seven plants illustrated here:
- seri (water dropwort)
- nazuna (shepherd's purse)
- ogyo (aka hahakogusa: cudweed)
- hakobera (chickweed)
- hotoke no za (nipplewort)
- suzuna (aka kabu: turnip)
- suzushiro (aka daikon: white radish)
Addendum: even Google has been getting into the spirit today with a special doodle on its Japanese site to mark the ausicious occasion. How cool is that?
Update: The ryoriya in question was Ginza Shimada, the standing-only (well, apart from one table for 4) little restaurant set up by chef Hiroshi Shimada. He's done so well out of it, he's taken on the role of executive chef for Ore-no-Kappo.
Unfortunately that means he's no longer in the kitchen in his own place. It's not as outstanding as it used to be...