Updated: March 09, 2017
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Sekihan, The Celebratory Dish Of Japan

Sekihan is one of the culturally important dishes the Japanese eat until this day. Do you know what meanings are contained behind this dish?

In addition to the white rice Japanese people eat daily, they occasionally eat another type of red colored rice Sekihan. There are special meanings between this dish and if you happen to live in Japan with a Japanese homestay family, you might be offered some, too.

It can get confusing why the heck Japanese eat rice with red beans together, and here I am to introduce it to you!

Introduction to Sekihan

Sekihan (赤飯, literally means red rice) is the Japanese mochi rice that are steamed together with red beans (adzuki), producing a reddish colored rice, hence the name Sekihan.

In Japan, sekihan are usually served when there is something to celebrate for good luck.
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Sekihan is especially important on days that mark the growth of a child. It’s served on obi-iwai, a ritual during the fifth month of pregnancy to wish for a safe and easy childbirth; okuizome, a baby’s symbolic first meal when it is 100 days old; and shichi-go-san, a ritual for children aged 7, 5 and 3, who are blessed at a Shinto shrine.

It is also not unusual for mothers in Japan to cook sekihan her kids hit puberty, and even bringing them sekihan lunch boxes.. although it can be embarrassing for the kids because it is just the same as announcing their first period to friends and family at the moment they open their bento lunch box!

How to Make

I'm sure not all people find the distinct chewiness mouthfeel of the mochi rice pleasant, therefore as a substitute of using only mochi rice, you can combine mochi rice with usual Japanese white rice up to 1:1 ratio to produce sekihan that is not too chewy/gummy when eaten.

Why Sekihan?

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In Japan, the color red is believed to contain the power to exorcise evil, and also The sekihan tradition was adapted from the Old Shinto ritual. At that time there was a custom of offering gods the naturally red colored rice (which are not cultivated anymore nowadays and was considered a luxurious food).
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There are another meaning of color red in Japan which is 'festive', therefore sekihan is served in congratulatory occasions nowadays in Japan.

Although the eating of sekihan is supposed to be for celebrations, in some rural areas of Japan, red rice is shared at funerals too, as the red is believed to remove any bad luck associated with death.
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