Nanakusa and Jinjitsu [七草(ななくさ)と人日(じんじつ)]

January 7th is one of Go-sekku[五節句(ごせっく)](five Sekku), Jinjitsu[人日(じんじつ)]. Sekku[節句(せっく)] is a day of seasonal point based on ancient Chinese calendar. Jinjitsu is the first Go-sekku.

Jinjitsu is also called 'Nanakusa no Sekku[七草の節句(ななくさのせっく)]'(Nanakusa means seven herbs). This is because people eat Nanakusa-gayu[七草粥(ななくさがゆ)](rice porridge with chopped seven spring herbs) on the day.


Jinjitsu means 'Human Day'. In the ancient China, the first seven days of New Year(Shōgatsu[正月(しょうがつ)]) were allocated as Chick Day, Dog Day, Boar Day, Sheep Day, Ox Day, Horse Day, Human Day and the fortune-telling for the animal of the day was performed. People took care of the animal of each day and criminals were not punished on Jinjitsu, January 7th.

And there was a custom of eating a soup with seven kinds of vegetables to wish for the health on Jinjitsu. It was introduced into Japan in the Heian Period(794-1185) and changed into Nanakusa-gayu.

The word 'Nanakusa' is mainly used for seven herbs of spring(Haru no Nanakusa[春の七草]). They are usually called by traditional names. Haru no Nanakusa are as follows.
  • Seri[芹(セリ)](water dropwort)
  • Nazuna[ナズナ](shepherd's purse)
  • Gogyō[ゴギョウ](Jersey cudweed, modern name: Hahako-gusa[ハハコグサ])
  • Hakobe[ハコベ](common chickweed)
  • Hotokenoza[ホトケノザ](henbit)
  • Suzuna[スズナ] (turnip, modern name: Kabu[蕪(カブ)])
  • Suzushiro[スズシロ](Radish, modern name: Daikon[大根(ダイコン)])

Haru no Nanakusa
Haru no Nanakusa

There are Nanakusa of autumn but they refers to the seven beautiful flowers of autumn(They are called 'Aki no Nanakusa[秋の七草]').

Nanakusa-gayu has been eaten to wish for the health as mentioned above and that is effective for overworked stomach by Osechi[御節(おせち)](Osechi are traditional dishes eaten in Shōgatsu.). But that is not eaten much now.

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