New Year Celebration in Japan
The biggest holiday season in Japan is the New Year celebration. (this is not the Chinese new year) It starts from the 31st of December to the 3rd of January every year. The majority of businesses would be closed and people would be celebrating by going to temples and shrines. Here is the simple guide for the Japanese new year celebration.
What to do during the Japanese New Year celebration
If you are a permanent resident in Japan, you would know what to expect during this time. However, if you are new to the culture, there are so many things you can do.
Visit temples to participate in special bell ringing
It is very well known Japanese tradition for starting a new year celebration, would be listening to a temple’s bell. This Joyano-Kane has various styles: the number could be from 33 to more than 200, however, the most common number is 108. This number comes from Buddhist teaching. It would start at night of the 31st of December and it would normally finish with one last bell ring in a new year.
Go to see the first sunrise
Another common tradition would be watching the first sunrise on the 1st of January. The location could be anywhere; however, two popular locations are seaside as well as near the Mt Fuji. Japanese people believe that the first sunrise would be very sacred and spiritual; this tradition started long time ago, the time Japanese people worshipped natural gods. Some people would pray to the first sunrise. The most of the new year programs on TV would broadcast several footage of the sunrise; so if you are not a morning person, or you partied too much on the new year’s eve, you can catch it up on TV.
Visit temples and shrines
Most of Japanese people would go to temples or shrines during the 1st -3rd of Jan. Famous temples and shrines would get (unpleasantly) super busy! People make a wish by pray to various gods and writing them on a wooden ornament.
If you are certain age group that believe to be in the bad luck year, (depending on the birthday) you can participate in some special cleansing ceremony with fee or buy special ornaments. You can buy fortunetelling (omikuji) and if the result is not good one, you should leave the paper with the temples or shrines. If it is a good one, you shall keep it with you!
When you pay your respect to the god by giving small change to the money box, you DO NOT throw your money! As you may witness others doing so! Just wait until you are close enough to put your money in the box!!
How do you spend the new year at home in Japan
Most of people watch TV….nowadays. Some people eat Japanese soba noodles on 31st of Dec. This means that you do not get a bad luck in a new year. You can make them or you can go Japanese noodle restaurants.
Once the new year comes, people would greet each other “happy new year”.
You can make or order the new year special meal(osechi). This meal consist eye-catching and interesting dishes which were designed to last for 3 days because women can have rest from cooking meals during the celebration.
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