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Celebrating New Year in Japan ~ Kinga Shinnen!
First of all, me and my team here at Japan Uptown wants to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and may you all be blessed with prosperous times ahead and all the best of luck!
Happy 2011 everyone!
New Year celebration is indeed a very big thing in Japan. The Japanese started to adopt the Gregorian calendar five years after the Meiji restoration in 1873. Before that, like all it’s other similar roots countries like Korea and China, they have been adopting the Chinese calendar. Therefore now, 1st of January marks the beginning of a new year for Japan and it is the most important and biggest annual event for the country of the Rising Sun.
At New Year’s eve, almost all big temples in Japan will ring their big bells for 108 times, signifying the 108 human sins in the Buddhist belief. They believe that the bell rings will ward off their worldly desires and sins of previous year, letting them to be able to start afresh and new. There will be lots of people too going off to temples to pray for a better year and life ahead. Expect to see lots of charms sold on the temple grounds. Since New Year celebration in Japan is big and one of its kind, there are a lot of things you can find on this day and not on normal days, whether in terms of foods and events.
New Year Foods in Japan
Like all big events, celebrations and occasions in other countries, in Japan, New Year is celebrated with all kinds of special, delicious, mouth watering and exquisite traditional Japanese cuisine called osechi-ryori. There’s also ozoni, sushi and sashimi to be enjoy on this day. Preparing and consuming mochi dishes is one of the common custom in the Japanese culture during New Year celebration.
Other than food, people also give gift money to children and it usually depends on the child’s age. However, the same amount of money is given when there’s more than one child to avoid any child feeling slighted and mistreated (somehow). These gift money in small colorful and decorative envelopes are called ‘Otoshidama‘. And there’s the common custom of sending and giving people they know decorative postcards with New year wishes as well as writing poetry like haiku and renga on the postcards.
Of course there are more events depending on the local customs but those mentioned above are the common ones. Well anyway, hope you’re enjoying your new year and all the best for 2011 everybody~ May all your resolutions come true. Me and my team here at Japan Uptown is trying to make one come true – to get more involved with this blog. Expect more updates from Japan Uptown in the future!
With sincere thoughts,
Fara a.k.a Ebazaar (writer/admin of Japanuptown.com)