This Sunday, most people will be celebrating Mother’s Day by giving a present or a card but in Japan it’s a day for treating all the special ladies in your life.
Mother’s Day is not until the second weekend of May in Japan but the special holiday this Sunday is White Day when ladies get gifts from the men in their lives in return for their efforts on Valentine’s Day (which is all about women treating men).
Ladies can expect to receive gifts from all the men they bought gifts for the month before which is not just your other half but includes friends, family members and workmates as well. Men are expected to spend a little more on their girlfriends so jewellery and lingerie are common gifts as well and cookies and chocolate.
However, most western cultures will have got all the romance out of the way in February and will be fully focussed on treating one special lady this weekend, mum.
Like with many celebrations in Japan, food plays an important role in Mother’s Day or haha no hi as it’s known. As well as buying flowers it is seen as a chance to remember and celebrate mother’s cooking and involves making some classic Japanese dishes.
Most Mother’s Day cuisine is not fancy but traditional, home cooked comfort food of the type mum’s do best. Warming bowls of Miso soup are often served but with the addition of steamed vegetables or delicate strips of pork to make a hearty meal.
Onigiri rice balls are another classic taste of Mother’s Day. The rice balls are shaped into circles or triangles, either by hand or using an onigiri mould. Onigiri are often found in bento boxes, made lovingly by mums for work or school lunches.
Other dishes include steamed vegetable dishes or braised leaves such as gomaae spinach or seaweed where the leaves are steamed and dressed in a rich, glossy sauce of sesame seeds, sake, sugar and soy sauce.
This is a nice tradition and much more personal than a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates. Cooking for your mum this Sunday will definitely put you in the good books for the rest of the year whether you are whipping up some of the classics of your youth or impressing her with your sushi making skills.