At the very end of the year, as I was rushing between a meeting and a dentist appointment, I got a surprise visit from Shimizu-san, the gardener who put in my wonderful Japanese balcony garden. He was bringing me, as a year-end gift and thank you for my business, a nanakusa no kago (photo above). It’s a little basket planted with seven spring herbs.
• seri (芹) – water dropwort (Oenanthe javanica)
• gogyō (御形) – jersey cudweed (Gnaphalium affine D. Don)
• nazuna (薺) – shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)
• hakobe (繁縷) – common chickweed (Stellaria media)
• hotokenoza (仏の座) – nipplewort (lapsana communis). The Japanese name is literally “Buddha’s seat”.
• suzuna (菘) – turnip leaf.
• suzushiro (蘿蔔) – daikon leaf.
The tradition is to make a rice porridge using these greens on Jan. 7. But that’s tomorrow and I don’t think I can bear to break up my basket arrangement to harvest the greens at home. So I’ll probably go buy a nanakusa set, which are widely sold in supermarkets, green grocers and department store food sections during the first week of the New Year. Here’s a photo: