The Meaning of Toshikoshi Soba Noodles on New Year’s Eve

Last night, I enjoyed soba noodles with my family as we Japanese have a tradition of eating buckwheat noodles on New Year’s Eve.

As you may know, the soba noodle soup eaten as a New Year’s Eve late-night meal in Japan is called “Toshikoshi Soba (年越しそば: literally meaning year-crossing buckwheat noodle)” whose origin is said to date back to the Edo period (Edo: 1603 to 1868).

In fact, according to the survey conducted in 2013 by the Japanese questionnaire site Research Bank, about 69 percent of 1200 men and women between the 10s and the 60s answered that they eat Toshikoshi Soba late at night on December 31st.

However, why do Japanese people have Toshikoshi Soba noodles on New Year’s Eve?

Why Japanese Eat Toshikoshi Soba Noodles on New Year’s Eve 

Toshikoshi Soba Noodles

Actually, there are some theories about the reason why we Japanese have Toshikoshi Soba noodles on New Year’s Eve and they include the following.

  • Since buckwheat noodles are thin, long, and bouncy, Japanese wish for long and healthy life, eating the noodle dish on New Year’s Eve.
  • Buckwheat is strong against rain and wind. Besides, the plant can grow even in the wasteland as well. Hence, people wish for a strong, healthy body, eating the noodles on New Year’s Eve.
  • Soba breaks more easily than other Japanese noodles, such as Udon and Ramen, so people have the buckwheat noodles on New Year’s Eve as a charm against accidents.

As you can see from the above, it can be said that many people living in Japan eat soba noodles late at night on December 31st to bring Next Year’s good luck in addition to keeping off Next Year’s bad luck.

How Japanese Prepare Soba Noodles for New Year’s Eve 

Maruchan Midori no Tanuki Soba with Tempura

Some Japanese people prepare instant soba noodles for Toshikoshi Soba. Others make the noodle dish from scratch using dried buckwheat noodles available at supermarkets and Soba restaurants.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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