Winter

Sozenji Nanakusa Gayu– a Seven-Herb Rice Porridge Serving at Sozenji Temple

YOSHIKO

Writer

Kiryu City in Gunma Prefecture is famous for the Sozenji Zen temple od Edo period (1205) and Nakakusa Gayu event – a Seven-Herb Rice Porridge Serving. From this article you will find out more interesting fact about this old Japanese tradition and figure out what ingredients go into this porridge.


Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま写真館

The Porridge

Kiryu City is known as a “town of the textile” which is produced in Kokura-village in the west valley. This region’s textile is famous for Jyoshu Kokuraori(上州小倉織). Jyoshu Kokuraori is an old technique of dying cotton yarns in indigo color. Products are usually shirts, hats, anything from this cotton can become a great souvenir.

 

This temple has long history and is known for “Temple of Amidasama(Amitabha)” in this region. It was built by Chimyo Shonin (智明上人) in 1205.

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま写真館

People eat rice porridge made of seven herbs at Souzenji Temple and hope for good health in the coming year. Nanakusa Gayu(七草粥) is made with 7 herbs which are Seri (Japanese parsley), Nazuna (Shepherd’s purse), Gogyo (Jersey cudweed), Hakobe (Common chickweed), Hotoke no za (Henbit), Suzuna (Turnip) and Suzushiro (Daikon).
And these herbs are mixed and boiled with rice making a porridge as a result. These 7 herbs are called “7 Herbs of Spring” (春の七草).

 

This tradition came from China in Heinan Period (794-1192). And Japanese people added rice to the original recipe of this porridge. Along with good health wishing, this custom has a pretty practical use. Even in the old times people were Eating Nanakusa Gayu to rest their stomachs from the New Year`s dishes, eat some fresh greens and get vitamins in winter.

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま写真館

Things To Do and See at Nakakusa Gayu Event

At Sozenji Temple ,they make rice porridge with seven kinds of herbs which they picked at a village of Kokura.
And they serve porridge for everyone. There is a song that is sung when chopping herbs. I want to listen to and I want you to listen to that , too.

 

As you could have probably guessed, “The rice porridge with seven herb serving” is a New Year`s custom. So you will be able to see a lot of attributes of Japanese New Year celebrations in the temple as well. This porridge may look quite simple, but it is definitely super healthy. In this area, all the seven herbs were blessed with the favorable conditions and grow in one neighborhood. Why don`t you try it?

Details and Access to Nanakusa Gayu Event

Date

January 7th every year. It starts at 6 in the morning and finishes at 8 am. So early!

Place

The Souzenji Temple, 2-651 Kawauchicho, Kiryushi , Gunma prefecture.

TEL

0277-65-9422

Access

・1 hour and 15 minutes by Asakusa-Tobu Line, 10 minutes by taxi from Shin Kiryu Station.

・10 minutes by car from Kiryu Station-JR Ryomo Line

・10 minutes by car from Nishikiryu Station – Jyoumou Line

Other Things To Do and See at The Sozenji Temple

Amitabha of Sozenji principal image is an important cultural property of Gunma. Besides, you can see a very old Itohiba (Japanese cypress) which is designated as a natural monument of Gunma.

 

Furthermore, Sozenji green tract of land is an environmental conservation area of Gunma. You should visit and enjoy this beautiful Japanese nature!

Image courtesy of ググっとぐんま写真館

Closing Remarks

There are many old temples in Japan.This Sozenji is the one of them.Its long history makes it a must see attraction when you are in Gunma Pfefecture.To have a great health next year , go to Sozenji and eat the porridge of seven herbs! And please feel the Zen temple’s historical atmosphere and refresh in the wild nature near the temple.

YOSHIKO

I hope that my introduction articles about Japan will be helpful for your stay!

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