New Year’s Osechi Whose Importance of Colour is Based on the Theory of Yin-Yang and the Five Elements

Along with zouni, the food essential to New Year’s is osechi cooking. According to the previously mentioned “Kimura Uemon Memoranda”, the osechi of Masamune used a great variety of dishes: about 60 kinds. It had foods that are rare today like whale and swan, foods that were unobtainable in Sendai Provice like lobster, mullet roe, and oranges. For that time period, it was quite an extravagent menu. It was an osechi meal that is said to have gladly matched Masamune’s deep knowledge of cooking.
The colour scheme of the osechi cooking was also taken into consideration. Importance was placed on the five colours of white, yellow, green, red, and black. These five colors have their origin in the theory of yin-yang and the five elements. Samurai wisdom knew that by eating foods of these five colours, balanced nutrition could be gained.
As a warrior, the new year was a special and very important juncture. Having remained alive and uninjured from the previous year, he welcomed the new year with gratitude. He prayed to win and advance through battles as the current year continued, and at the same time offered up each day to the gods. The New Year’s cruisine of Masamune was not merely a luxurious and dazzling feast. It included the earnest hopes of a warrior.
What has been recreated here is 6 dishes from within that menu. The modernly indispensable red and white kamaboko was an expesive food in that time which only daimyo could eat.

陰陽五行説に基づき五色を重視したおせち
雑煮と並んで重要な正月料理がおせち料理である。前出の『木村宇右衛門覚書』によると、正宗のおせち料理は多種多様な食材を使用し、60品目を迎えていたようだ。現在では珍しい鯨や白鳥、仙台藩では獲れない伊勢海老やからすみ、ミカンなどもあり、当時としてはかなり豪華な献立である。料理への造詣が深かった正宗の面目躍如とも言うべきおせち料理である。
ここに再現したのは、そのうちの6品目。現在のおせち料理に欠かせない紅白かまぼこは、当時は大名クラスしか口にえきないとても高価な食べ物だった。
おせち料理は色どりにも配慮がなされ、白・黄・緑・赤・黒の五色が重視された。この五色は陰陽五行思想に由来し、五色の食べ物を摂ることで栄養のバランスと色の力を取り込むことができるという、武士の知恵が込められている。
武士にとって正月は非常に重要な節目である。旧年を無事に生き残ることができ、新しい年を迎えることができた感謝と、今年も続くであろう戦いの日々に勝ち残れるようにという祈願とを、同時に神に捧げる日だからだ。正宗の正月料理も、ただ豪華絢爛であるだけではなく、武士としての切実な思いが込められているのだろう。

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