A Traditional Japanese Custom in Hawaii
Health & Food
The Japanese people attach great importance to the New Year
Years is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Hawaii. There are
New Year's foods that are eaten to give strength, give good luck, good
and long life. One traditional food prepared at New Year's time is mochi.
Mochi pounding is the biggest event of the New
Year's celebration. To pound
mochi, sweet rice is soaked overnight then steamed until soft.
Then place the
mochi in the usu
(big, deep bowl). One or two people pound the mochi
another person turns the mochi in the usu between
the pounds and sprinkles
some water on it. When the mochi is smooth, it is placed on a
shaped into flat balls with the hand.
Ozoni (mochi soup) is made on New Year's
eve and is eaten after midnight. It
is believed to give strength throughout the upcoming year. Having a
red fish is greatly believed to bring you good luck.
Our family New Year's tradition is to attend a service at
the Buddhist temple,
and pay our respects to deceased family members. At midnight each
helps to ring the church bell and we drink a toast of warm sake.
dash home through a thick blanket of smoke to light strings of
believed to scare away evil spirits.
Traditional Japanese Marriage Customs
After the wedding day has been set, traditionally, the
bride and her mother
goes to pick out her wedding outfit no less than three months before
day." The Japanese bride wears a kimono, obi and uchikake.
The kimono has
long sleeves (furisode) that reach the floor. The kimono
can be of any color
and print and usually has the family crest on it. It is folded right
over left and
is held in place with an obi. The uchikake is a
white heavy upper coat that is
worn over the kimono. The make-up process, which takes more
than an hour,
includes painting the face, neck, arms and hands white. Red color is
the eyes to give the impression of bashfulness. A very thin black line
painted over the eyes. The mouth is painted a very deep color, but only
part of the lips. This creates a smaller mouth. The final stage of
the "traditional Japanese bride" is the arrangement of the Japanese wig
its kanzashi (decorations). The groom wears a hakama
(pleated skirt) or a
haori(black cloak) with white house crests.
Japanese character for "love"
Traditional Japanese Diet Moves to Hawaii
Beri-Beri - a disease of the peripheral nerves caused by a
deficience of, or an
inability to assimilate thiamin. It frequently results from a diet
polished white rice.
Hakumai, polished rice came into use in
the Genreku period at the end of the
17th century and the period at the beginning of the 18th century. It
staple food prized by the emperors, nobles, warriors and wealthy
Genmai, unpolished brown rice became the food of the poor.
Rice was so central to the lives and diets of the Japanese,
laborers to Hawaii in 1884 stipulated that rice be made available to
than 5 cents per pound. To their delight and to their detriment the
available to them was highly milled white rice.
A serving of sticky white rice is essential to achieve manpukukan,
stomach feeling, but daily nutritional needs must be met by including
legumes, pork, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, egg yolks, berries
The inclusion of soy beans, which provide protein of high
biological value and
approximately 12 mc of thiamin per gram, in such forms as miso
paste), tofu (bean curd), natto (fermented beans),
kuromame (black soy
beans), okara (bean curd residue), yokan (sweetened
bean paste), and shoyu
(soy sauce)helped to balance the diet. The ever-resourceful
enhanced their diets by incorporating the bounty of fresh fruits and
Hawaii had to offer.
Traditional Japanese Childbirth Customs
Customarily, a month before birth, a woman would leave her
to her parents home and give birth. Her family would care for her one
then she'd return to her husband with child. After the fifth month of
pregnancy, a woman wears a cotton abdomen band called a Iwata-obi.
given by her family for protection, good luck and an easy birth.
After birth, a practice widely held is "seventh night", or
the celebration of
naming. On this day the child is named and introduced to the world,
the baby does not leave the house for one month.
On the baby's first birthday, various tools are placed in
the path of the
crawling child.. Items like a sickle, an abacus or a writing brush can
future profession of the infant by which one it chooses to play with.
Shiatsu is an ancient art of health that
originally came from China. In Japan,
the word "shiatsu" means finger pressure: shi (finger)
Shiatsu improves the bosy's own natural powers of
recuperation and prevents
illness. It relies on the mental attitude of the person undergoing
Shiatsu is used to relax the body, guard against colds,
relieve fatigue and
relax aching sholders & backs. The most common reason
people get shiatsu is
to treat backaches.
The shiatsu practioners that I interviewed
entered this field because of
previous exposure to the positive health benefits experienced by family
members who were treated with shiatsu.
In practicing shiatsu, a pressure is applied to
the surface of the body in a
gradual manner that penetrates and limbers the muscles beneath. The
of the thumbs and fingers are used to apply sufficient pressure.
Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, 1958 Japan Its Land,
Goldstein-Gidoni, O (1998). Packaged Japaneseness:
Weddings, Business and
Brides, The Curzon Press and the University of Hawaii Press,
Namikoshi, T. (1969) Japanese Finger Pressure Therapy-
Namikoshi, T. (1985) Shiatsu and Stretching.
United Japanese Society of Hawaii (1971) History of
Japanese in Hawaii
Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (1973) Favorite Island Cookery Book
Manning, T. A. (1998) Mosby's Dictionary, 5th edition,
Michener, J.A. (1958) The Hokusai sketchbook: selections from the
Charles E. Tuttle Co. Inc.
Ohnuki-Tierney, E.(1993) Rice as Self:Japanese Identities Through
Princeton University Press
Encyclopedia Brittanica Vol 3, (1978)
to Traditional Health Beliefs index