Having osechi this year...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be a bit chilly today-the high is expected to get up to only 9C. The rest of the week is looking a bit warmer with daytime highs in the low to mid teens and mostly sunny weather.

Every year I say I'm going to order some kind of osechi and I pick up a catalogue or two and check them out. They all look so good, but then I look at the prices...and I faint from shock! I could eat for a week (or more!) for the amount that we're expected to pay for osechi. So, I say to heck with that and just have an American style New Year's Day, which means eating nachos and guacamole while watching American football with a huge hangover. (In Canada, it's almost the same, except we watch hockey, but I can't get hockey here in Japan, so I settle for football)

But this year I found an affordable one. The question is, how traditional is it? I guess it depends on your definition of tradition...ha ha!

KFC Japan is now rolling out a special box to compete with the Japanese traditional New Year’s food known as osechi. Osechi usually consists of layered boxes known as “jyuubako” full of special foods with meanings which represent good luck for the New Year. Since everything shuts down in Japan for New Year, osechi are also designed to last for several days, meaning that there’s no need to do any cooking during this period of time which in Japan is meant for family. (of course this isn't really true anymore, as tons of shops are open all year round-but even as little as 10 years ago, it was hard to find anything open on Jan. 1)

KFC Japan’s special jyuubako comes in three versions: Bamboo, Pine, and Plum, mimicking the naming convention used for traditional jyuubako and Japanese meal sets.

The Plum version costs Y2,000 and includes: four pieces of original chicken, one crispy shrimp fry, one “crispy” chicken, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.

The Bamboo version costs Y2,500 and includes: six pieces of original chicken, two crispy shrimp fries, one “crispy”, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.

The Pine version costs Y3,000 and includes: eight pieces of original chicken, three crispy shrimp fries, one “crispy”, one biscuit, five nuggets and one large order of potato fries.

The tasty fried chicken treat boxes have divided Japanese people. Some pointed out that while traditional jyuubako are part of New Year culture, a lot of people find the osechi food contained in them to be not so tasty. Children also are famous for turning their noses up at the selection of pickled, stewed and boiled foods that make up osechi. However, those more health-conscious commenters pointed out that it’s a lot of mostly similar fried chicken pieces on offer in KFC’s boxes with little in the way of variety or vegetables.

While KFC Japan managed to successfully slide its way into an unoccupied niche in the market with Christmas, (which wasn’t traditionally celebrated in largely non-Christian Japan anyway), I wonder how successful they'll be at breaking into the osechi market. To be honest though, when I look at these sets, I think anyone who buys them will see them as a sort of addition to their traditional meal, rather than replacing it altogether...

So, what do you think? Does it count as osechi? Will I be traditional enough? Or will I also have to go fly a kite?

Have a great day!


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