Christmas was over and it's time for many housewives in Japan to prepare to welcome the New Year. I would say not all, but many of them cook a set of traditional dishes for New Year.
We call it "osechi " which is supposed to be prepared in advance before the arrival of the new year. You may find it very interesting that each dish of "osechi" has a good reason behind its name and it somehow symbolizes good health, good fortune and prosperity.
That is the significance for us to have "osechi " during the first three days of the new year.
And like my mother did, of all "osechi " I start by cooking "kuromame". It is slow simmered black soybeans.
Why do we eat them on this occasion?
It's like a pun because the word "mame" means bean, but it also means dilligent."
"Mame(beans)" and "mame(diligent)" in Japanese have different written characters, but the same sound. So people wish to be diligent and healthy throughout the year by eating "kuromame".