Celebrate the Japanese New Year

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yoi otoshi o ! At the end of December, the Japanese prepare to celebrate the new year. And yet, there is no champagne or confetti on the horizon.

New Year in Japan is a very important family celebration full of traditions. Called Oshogatsu, the celebration lasts for several days during which families gather together. In the New Year’s Eve program on December 31: relaxation, television evening and prayer in temples or shrines.

Find out how the Japanese usher in the new year.

Preparations for the Japanese New Year

In Japan, the month of December is marked by well established traditions to start the new year off right. Change requires good preparation and, above all, a good dose of effort.

to ensure the new year preparationsJapanese people sometimes take vacations in the last days of December. Which is quite rare in Japan! Additionally, many businesses and public services are closed. it’s the perfect time for purify and decorate your hometo finish sending greetings or to prepare new year dishes.

? The Great end of the year cleaning

At the end of December, the Japanese practice Osoji, a purification rite dating from the Edo period. The houses are cleaned from top to bottom and we put our affairs in order to start next year on the right foot. Debts are paid and old files are archived.

In addition to homes, schools and offices are also getting a big spring clean. Likewise, Buddhist temples and shrines are cleaned of dust and evil spirits are removed.

Pour Japanese new year 2022make way for good intentions!

? New Year Wishes

The end of the year is also the time when we write our greeting cards (nengajo). This custom dating from the Nara period is very important in Japan and requires great job at the post office so that everything is delivered on 1it is January morning. Thus, each year more than two billion nengajo are sent ?.

it’s time to I wish a happy new year, good health and thank your loved ones. Wishes are usually accompanied by a lottery number, the Japanese’s favorite game to start the year off right.

japanese greeting card or nengajoA small selection of nengajo cards for sale in Japan.

? Bonenkai afternoons to celebrate the end of the year

While Japanese New Year is mostly celebrated with family, the last week of December is dedicated to friends and colleagues. Also, it is not uncommon to spend festive evenings to “forget” last year and welcome the next one with optimism.

? Traditional Japanese New Year decorations

After Christmas, the Japanese decorate places with symbolic objects:

  • the kadomatsu it is a pine and bamboo sculpture placed at the entrance of houses, representing longevity.
  • the Shimenawa o The braided straw rope hung over the door is believed to ward off evil spirits.
  • Finally, the kagami-mochi it is a mixture of traditional New Year’s rice cakes, topped with a bit of bitter orange.

The animal heralded by the Chinese calendar is also honored in homes. In 2021 it was the year of the Ox; 2022 will be the year of the Tiger. Therefore, it is this sign that will influence the horoscope of the year.After the festivities, traditional ornaments are often burned in temples to bring good luck to the family.

traditional japanese new year decorationsJapanese traditional decorations: kadomatsu, shimenawa and kagami mochi.

? New Year’s Eve on December 31 in Japan

The japanese new year party It has nothing to do with the New Year’s Eve we know at home. While in France the atmosphere is festive, it is often in front of the television that we end our year in Japan.

? Japanese New Years Soba

Far from the traditional foie gras and smoked salmon, in the Land of the Rising Sun we settle for a plain pasta broth like TV.

On the night of December 31, Japanese tradition dictates that we eat toshikoshi soba before midnight to ensure a long life. This long buckwheat noodle dish served in a broth symbolizes the passing of the new year and longevity.

toshikoshi soba or japanese new year soupYou can find the toshikoshi soba recipe at tarasmulticulturaltable.com

? New Year’s Eve TV Show

kohaku et Gaki no Tsukai are the two favorite variety shows on the night of December 31.

The former is a true institution in the Land of the Rising Sun. It is a very popular annual music contest in japan, which faces the best artists of the archipelago in two teams. This program broadcast by NHK broke all audience records. The second is a series of sketches and comedy game shows which airs on Nippon TV.

? The 108 midnight bells

At night, many Japanese visit the shinto shrines or go to the Buddhist temples to listen to the peal of the 108 bells. It is a cleansing ritual where each sound of bells represents temptation in the Buddhist religion… The last blow falls exactly December 31 at midnight ; a way to free yourself from your sins to start the new year on the right foot.

? New Year’s Day in Japan

The first of January is not easy in Japan. On the program: first visit to the temple, sunrise contemplation, toast with sake. Yes, a good year is worth it!

? The first prayer of the year

On January 1, starting at midnight, temples and shrines are full of people for the hatsumode. Just after 108 chimes, colossal crowds patiently wait in front of the holy places to go to pray. Since the Edo period, the Japanese have the custom of going visit the deities to thank you for the past year and to ask for your protection in the next. the first sentence of the year represents a tradition particularly rooted in the Land of the Rising Sun. January 1 is also the occasion shoot a omiku-jito predict the luck of the next 12 months.

Hatsumode, the first prayer of the year

Drawing of the omikuji, a small piece of paper that will predict the level of luck for the coming year. Photo by Daniel Gregorio.

? The first sunrise of the year

On New Year’s Day, many inhabitants of the archipelago get up very early to go admire the first sunrise (Hatsuhinode) and welcoming the Toshigami (year deities). This tradition inherited from the emperor in the Heian era brings luck to the bravest. Some do not hesitate to drive to Shizuoka to see the magnificent view of the sunrise on Mount Fuji.

Hatsuhinode, the first sunrise of the year in JapanThe first sunrise of the year, observed from a beach in Japan.

? Cough or New Year’s

To toast to the new year that begins, we drink the first sake of the year called Toso. It is a herbal rice wine that is believed to bring good health. Remember, sake is a sacred drink in Japan, considered the brew of the gods.

? Otoshidama envelopes

Japanese children do not receive special gifts at Christmas. On the other hand, their family pampers them on New Year’s Day. Otoshidama are envelopes containing money. These gifts are offered to the children until they are old enough to work and they in turn distribute these envelopes.

? Discover how the japanese celebrate christmas in japan !

? The first 3 days of January

From the 1st to the 3rd of January the festivities continue with the tasting of delicious traditional japanese dishes all with symbolism. At family gatherings it is common to play traditional games like l’hanestuki (a set of wooden rackets), To fly kites or even play Japanese card games. The new year also rhymes with luck, as evidenced by the marked enthusiasm for surprise bags. Finally, great attention is paid to the first events of the year.

? happy new year

At the beginning of the year, it is customary wish happy new year to loved ones. Since New Year’s Day, the formula changes and we will no longer say yoi otoshi o. In fact, this formula that means to welcome the new year that is approaching, would no longer make sense.

“Happy New Year” in Japanese is ” akemashita omedeto (Congratulations on the New Year).

? Japanese New Year dishes tasting

To celebrate the New Year in Japan, families gather for three days to eat delicious dishes prepared in advance and spend time together.

Le osechi ryori is a assortment of dishes specially designed for the occasion. Traditional New Year’s dishes have a whole meaning. There are fish, sweet potato, maki, herring roe, artichoke and Japanese specialties that symbolize happiness, health, wealth, fertility and other good wishes of the year.

You can also eat ozoni, or dish inherited from the samurai of the Heian era. It is a soup, accompanied by a mochi rice cake that symbolizes longevity. Be careful not to choke on it!

Osechi ryori, the traditional New Year's dish in JapanExample of osechi ryori prepared especially for the New Year.

? Buy surprise bags

The first three days of January, the Japanese rush to the shops to buy surprise bags. These are bags with unknown contents whose value is usually much higher than its price. The most anticipated are those of luxury brands. Hours of waiting are often necessary to wait for a Fukubukuro or “chance sack”. A true marketing operation that boosts consumption after the holidays.

Fukubukuro or out of chanceBlind bags or fukubukuro filled with Japanese anime goodies. Photo from NihonBox on Twitter.

? Attract good fortune with Omamori

Did you know l’Omamori ? This amulet charged with power, sold in temples and shrines? Many Japanese buy this talisman in the first week of January to attract good fortune.

? Predicts luck with the first dream of the year

In Japan, the meaning of first night dreams is of great importance. So your first dream portends your luck until next year.

According to Hatsuyume tradition, the first dream of the year it is supposed to predict how lucky you will be in the next 12 months. If you dream of Mount Fuji, hawks and… eggplants, then this will be a very good year for you! ???

✍️ Write the first calligraphy of the year

Traditionally, the first Calligraphy of the year (let it dry) takes place on January 2. In the archipelago it is customary to write auspicious words or short poetry (haiku) pour announce wishes or good intentions.

you got it, the new year in japan It is totally different from our New Year’s Eve, however, it has many surprises in store for us. In the Land of the Rising Sun, it is family and traditions that prevail. So are you ready for this unusual experience?

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