An important part of the Japanese New Year’s celebration is making mochi, a rice cake, which is transformed into kagami mochi, or mirror mochi, for placement throughout the home.
The kagami mochi is made from rice harvested in the fall and thought to contain the pure spirit of rice. Thus, it’s possessed with toshigami, a diety that makes visits during the New Year to bring good harvests, the blessing of ancestors and the power of life.
Mochi is one of the many facets of New Year’s celebrations, the others being the placement of kadomatsu, or gate pine, at the entrances to homes to welcome toshigami.
Another celebration is eating osechi ryri, or a collection of New Year’s food eaten during the first three days of January to wish for a rich harvest.