When Japanese cooks want to make their food appear especially festive, they often include auspicious motifs in their menus.
Vegetables carved to resemble cranes and tortoises, animals symbolizing longevity, are favorite options for anniversary and wedding banquets. Garnishing a broth with knotted stalks of mitsuba (Japanese parsley) conveys togetherness; the knots and ties often appear as items on menus for commemorative events.
On special occasions like birthdays, and the numerous reunions between friends and coworkers that tend to take place as the year winds down, a checkerboard motif, considered propitious, is a good choice. Originally, this pattern was known as ishidatami (flagstones), but after 18th-century kabuki actor Sanogawa Ichimatsu and his signature costume that sported a checkerboard pattern gained enormous popularity, this design became known as the Ichimatsu moyō (motif).