What is “New Year’s Eve Soba” that Japanese people eat at the end of the year?


Written by aki


Finally, it’s the last day of 2021!
In your country, do you do anything special during the New Year holidays?


In Japanese culture, we eat a food called “Soba” on December 31st!

Today, I would like to introduce you to one of the Japanese cultural aspects of the year-end and New Year’s holidays, “Toshikoshi Soba“.


What is soba anyway?

Have you ever heard of “soba“?



This is Soba.
It is a typical Japanese noodle dish.

Soba (そば or 蕎麦, “buckwheat”) is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. The noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or hot in a noodle soup. The variety Nagano soba includes wheat flour.

In Japan, soba noodles can be found in a variety of settings,[1] from “fast food” places to expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles[2] and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy. There are a wide variety of dishes, both hot for winter and cold for summer, using these noodles.

(SOBA | Wikipedia)


Slightly fragrant and lightly flavored.

It is often served in home cooking. In summer, it is eaten in cold soup, and in the cold winter months, it is eaten with warm dashi.

hot soba

In Japan, it’s customary to eat these soba noodles on December 31st!


Why do we eat soba noodles at the end of the year?

It is said to date back to the mid-Edo period(1603-1868 CE).


Since ancient times, Soba has been considered a food of good luck and has been served on special occasions in various regions of Japan.

Unlike other noodles, Soba is easy to bite through, which is why it was associated with the meaning of “cutting off the bad luck of the year“.


I guess eating them before New Year’s Eve makes for a better New Year!


There is also a theory that soba noodles are long and thin and therefore “wish for longevity”.



Are there different ways to eat in different regions of Japan?

In fact, soba has a regional flavor.


For example, in Kanto, they put tempura on top of soba.



In Kyoto, it is topped with sweet and spicy seasoned fish.

It’s called “Nishin Soba“.



There are also a variety of other soba noodles, such as those kneaded with green tea and topped with citrus.
I’ll introduce them to you another time!


If you’re ever in Japan, give soba a try!

Wherever you visit in Japan, you will probably find a “Soba” restaurant. Soba is such a mainstream food in Japan.

Of course, you can eat it on days other than New Year’s Eve, so if you are curious, please try it.



Hello! I live in a place called Shiga, Japan. I'm not very good at English, but I'm writing this blog in the hope that I can convey some of Japan's beautiful places and delicious food to people overseas.