Mitsubishi Public Affairs Committee
Mitsubishi Monitor December & January 2009-2010
ügWrapping Up the Year with Toshikoshi Sobaüh
Soba is a Japanese noodle that is eaten in various ways depending on the season. In summer, soba is served cold and dipped in a chilled sauce; in winter, it comes in a hot broth. Soba is often garnished with tasty tidbits, such as tempura shrimp, or with a bit of boiled spinach to add a touch of color.
      Soba has been a favorite of Japanese people for centuries and the popular buckwheat noodle has even secured a role in various Japanese traditions, including the New Year’s celebration. Japanese people commonly eat soba on New Year’s Eve, when the old year intersects with the new year, and this is known as toshikoshi or “year-crossing” soba.
There are various theories regarding the origins of
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toshikoshi soba. One theory is tied to soba’s association with the accumulation of wealth—a notion rooted in the practices of goldsmiths, who used balls of soba dough to collect gold dust from their workshops. Because soba is easily cut, some people argue that the noodle symbolizes the severing of links with the hardships of the previous year. Soba is also said to signify longevity, because it is long and thin. There are many other explanations and no single theory can claim to be the definitive truth, but this only adds to the mystique of toshikoshi soba.