Thursday, January 7, 2010


The Big Green Drum Dojo in Pensacola will be celebrating its 2010 Kagami Biraki this coming Sunday January 10 at 1:30 p.m.

In the past, Samurai households would at New Years make an offering to the gods of a stack of mochi to represent the kagami. The mochi or “soft round rice cakes” were cut up into pieces to represent the biraki, or “opening,” and eaten on January 11. Even today, most households and offices observe this custom, placing kagami-mochi on their kamidana (a small Shinto altar usually set on a shelf over a lintel) at New Years.

Kagami-biraki is also a ceremony performed at celebratory events in which the lid of a sake barrel is broken open by a wooden mallet and the sake served to everyone present. Kagami refers to the lid of the sake barrel and biraki means “to open” so kagami-biraki literally means “opening the lid.” Because of the lid's round shape, the kagami is a symbol of harmony. The kagami-biraki, therefore, represents an opening to harmony and good fortune.

Both types of kagami-biraki - the breaking open of the barrel of sake at Shinto blessings and celebrations, and the cutting up of kagami-mochi - are a means of asking the gods to grant good health and fortune at junctures in time, such as the New Year or the start of a new departure in life or business.

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