Rice Porridge with Seven Spring Herbs

Jan 2, 2020 | Recipes, Spring | 4 comments

From left to right, the seven spring herbs are: SERI, NAZUNA, GOGYŌ, HAKOBERA, HOTOKÉNOZA, SUZUNA, SUZUSHIRO

Nana Kusa Kayu
Rice Porridge with Seven Spring Herbs

More than a thousand years ago, the Japanese spoke of watari-dori (“migrating birds”) coming from the Asian mainland in wintertime bringing with them unwanted viruses – early evidence of avian flu epidemics! Eating nutritious nana (seven) kusa (grasses) kayu (porridge) on the 7th day of the New Year was believed to strengthen resistance to infection and colds.

Indeed the seven “grasses” traditionally cooked into rice porridge are vitamin and mineral rich leafy herbs and flowering greens.

Variations on the theme… Topping bowls of okayu with broiled salmon and/or uméboshi plums are both popular variations on the rice porridge theme. The saltiness of either, or both, eliminates the need for any salt in seasoning the porridge.

Try making your own OKAYU: Download a recipe-guide for Nana Kusa-Gayu

Join the conversation. Leave a comment or ask a question below.


  1. devin

    We will be looking for these in our neighbourhood!

    • Elizabeth Andoh

      In Japan, the first week of January small assortments (a few sprigs of each) at high prices are easy to find. My favorite nanakusa is SERI (similar to watercress) and I often buy a bunch of those alone. For those who live outside Japan, use any leafy greens (kale is fine) and turnip or radish tops. Enjoy a healthy start to the new year!

  2. fresh

    Happy new year & welcome back and thanks for the great updated website.
    I like your suggested variation.

    • Elizabeth Andoh

      Happy New Year to you, too! Glad you like the site, and pleased to see you participate.

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