Japanese Culture: Jinjitsu (人日)

Posted on 07. Jan, 2009 by in Holidays

Jinjitsu (人日) is celebrated on the seventh of Janurary.  Jinjitsu (人日) literally means ‘human day.’  It’s called human day because it’s believed to be a day when humans were first created.  In the 1800s, criminals were given leniency and executions were delayed on Jinjitsu (人日).  Jinjitsu (人日) used to be a holiday of compassion.  Today, Jinjitsu (人日) is still celebrated but it’s considered part of the New Year’s celebrations rather than a separate celebration in and of itself.  On this day Japanese people consume nanakusu gayu (七草の節句) which means ‘seven herb porridge’ in Japanese. 

Along with rice, nanakusu gayu (七草の節句) includes seven different types of herbs.  One of the herbs contained in nanakusu gayu (七草の節句) is called seri (せり).  Seri (せり) is a water dropwart that looks like a white flower.  You have to be careful with water dropwarts because some of them are poisonous and can kill humans.

 

Another herb in nanakusu gayu (七草の節句) is called nazuna (なずな), which is called shepherd’s purse in English.  Nazuna (なずな) can be used as animal feed and for medicinal purposes.

 

 

Have you ever heard of gogyoo (ごごよう)?  Gogyoo (ごごよう) is called cudweed in English.  It looks like a flower, but it’s definetely an edible herb.  You might see caterpillars munching on gogyoo (ごごよう), for gogyoo (ごごよう) is their staple diet.

 

Hakobera (はこべら) is called chickweed in English.  It’s considered a weed in the U.S., and you’ll see a lot of pesticides being used to get rid of hakobera (はこべら).

 

 

Hotokenoza (ほとけのざ) is called nipplewart in English.  (I know, isn’t the name hilarious?!)  Hotokenoza (ほとけのざ) is often used in salads in Japan.

 

 

Here’s a herb you might of heard of, it’s called suzuna (すずな).  Suzuna (すずな) is a turnip leaf high in vitamin C.

 

 

Another common herb in Japan is suzushiro (すずしろ).  Suzushiro (すずしろ) is a radish leaf or the leaf from the radish’s stem.

 

 

So those are the seven herbs that go into nanakusu gayu (七草の節句).  As you can see, nanakusu gayu (七草の節句) is full of fiber so eat up everyone!

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