New Year (Shōgatsu) is considered an important holiday in Japan. It is the holiday where families get together and enjoy each other’s company. Unlike the Western’s New Year traditions, the Japanese way is much more solemn since the year-end activities and preparations can mostly be done at home. Rent a furnished apartment in Tokyo to experience how Japanese celebrate New Year via KaguAruoo. A new rental website that lets you search, pick and rent furnished apartments in Japan, online. With KaguAruoo, there is no need to look for a guarantor, pay for deposit and key money.
Visit Japan in time for its New Year celebration and you will be amazed with the rich culture and traditions the Japanese have. These traditions originated back to the earlier periods, while some of them are merged with the practices of the modern times. The Japanese celebration of the New Year extends up to January 3rd.
Here are some of the popular New Year traditions being practice in Japan:
Oosouji [Deep Cleaning]
The Japanese believe that a new year must be welcomed with a clean abode. Thus, the Japanese spend a day or two making sure that all corners of their houses are cleaned. Spaces that were left untouched for so many months are going to get a good cleaning when the New Year approaches.
New Year Decorations
Kadomatsu – This is a New Year decoration that is adorning every entrance in the Japanese’s home. The decoration is made up of three bamboo shoots of inconsistent lengths, pines and plum branches. The ornament symbolizes prosperity, longevity and steadfastness. This ornament is then burned after January 15th.
Shimekazari – This is a New Year decoration that is hung on doors to invite good fortune and to keep off bad spirits. The decoration is made up of shimenawa, pine and a bitter orange. This symbolizes posterity.
Hagoita – This is another New Year decoration that you often see being displayed in homes in Japan. This is a wooden paddle that is beautifully decorated. The Japanese believe that this decoration drives away bad luck.
New Year Feast
Toshikoshi soba – This food is eaten on New Year’s eve and is also known as year-end soba. This dish is a noodle in a hot broth.
O-sechi ryori – This is the ultimate New Year’s feast. Each food represents a special meaning for the coming year. The preparation for this special meal will require certain preparations. For busy Japanese, they normally just opted to buy ones that are sold at department stores and restaurants.
Mochi – This is a classic Japanese New Year dish. In Japanese tradition, mochi must be prepared on New Year’s day. Making mochi requires time, so, if you do not have time to make one yourself, don’t worry as they can be brought through various department stores.
This is a tradition of the Japanese of giving an envelope with a small amount of money to the children. The money is not much but the children are very much excited to receive one from their family and relatives.
These are bags filled with different items inside. Many shops sell Fukubukuro at different prices. The excitement begins in lining up to get your hands on one bag, then, upon purchasing one, you will never know what you are going to get. This tradition has been pretty popular since then until now.
Nenga are New Year’s greeting cards. Each year, almost everyone in Japan sends Nenga cards to their loved ones. This is a lovely tradition to show one another that they are in their thoughts during the New Year celebration even when they are miles apart. The post office always delivers these nenga cards in time on New Year’s day.
Joya no kane
This is a tradition wherein all the Buddhist temples in Japan ring their bells 108 times. The number of rings represents the 108 human desires that a person will experience throughout their life. The 108th bell is rung to cleanse the body from every pain, suffering and problems brought about by the previous year.
New Year’s Eve Television Program
In Japan, one of the traditional activities during the New Year’s eve is watching the longest running TV program, Kohaku Uta Gassen. The TV program started in 1959 and has been entertaining Japanese families every year since. The program starts from 7:15 PM until 11:45 PM.
This is another New Year tradition in Japan which involves everyone waking up early and witnessing the first sunrise of the year. Though not everyone will be able to wake up early, most Japanese wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity of watching the sun rise.
This is one of Japan’s New Year traditions. The first visit to the shrine of the new year. Most Japanese do this tradition together with their entire family to pay their respects and to wish for a bountiful year ahead. Thus, making all the shrines from January 1st to 3rd very crowded.
New Year Greetings from the Emperor
This is a much-awaited tradition of the Japanese wherein they get to watch the Emperor make a public appearance. The New Year is one of the instances where the palace grounds are open to the public. The Emperor and his family also made several appearances on the same day – waving to the crowd.
Japanese are very traditional and rich cultured people. They value their culture more than anything and they would like to keep it that way. So as their belief that each New Year brings forth another chance to make things right, the start of the new beginning and a hope that everything will be better than the previous years.
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