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New Year in Japan

thomas

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New Year [shogatsu sanganichi] is one of the most important holidays in Japan. Celebrated between January 1st and January 3rd most Japanese are off during shogatsu. It is interesting to note that until the end of the Tokugawa era New Year was celebrated according to the Chinese calendar on February 1st.

Traditionally, the start into the new year should be as smooth as possible, as the course of shogatsu is supposed to reflect the rest of the year. Houses are thoroughly cleaned [susuharai] and new or at least clean clothes are worn (aspect of purification).

Susuharai is actually a ritualised cleaning of temples: priests beat the dust out of the tatami mats and clean their temples inside and outside.

The entrance of temples and private homes are decorated with kadomatsu made of pine, bamboo and bamboo grass (to get an impression of what kadomatsu look like see the pine decoration in our New Year logo).

When asked about what New Year means to them personally most Japanese will mention family reunions and special shogatsu
dishes [osechi-ryori] such as:

- rice cakes [o-mochi]: very sticky stuff made of pounded rice, each year a couple of elderly folks suffocate because of o-mochi

- New Year soup [o-zoni]: usually eaten with o-mochi

- buckwheat noodles [toshikoshi soba]: they symbolise longevity, read the story behind the "year-crossing noodles"

Another tradition is to visit Buddhist temples. At midnight on New Year's eve temple bells [tsuri-gane] are rung 108 times [joya-no-kane], each toll representing a human vice. By listening to the bells people will be relieved of their sins.

While friends and acquaintances exchange New year cards [nengajo] before New Year's eve, children receive special gifts [otoshi-dama], usually small envelopes containing money.

For more detailed info on Japanese New Year habits I recommend the following links

=> http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2064.html

=> http://mothra.rerf.or.jp/ENG/Hiroshima/Festivals/27.html
 

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Maciamo

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children receive special gifts [otoshi-dama], usually small envelopes containing money.
Why is it that I also received o-toshi-dama (with kitty-chan on it) :relief:

Happy New Year !:valentine :smile:
 

thomas

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Originally posted by Maciamo
Why is it that I also received o-toshi-dama (with kitty-chan on it)


You must have been a good boy this year, lol!

A Happy New Year to everyone! :laugh:
 

thomas

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Fukubukuro

Shoppers flock to buy "lucky bags," some worth Y14.6 bil

Tens of thousands of consumers lined up to buy traditional New Year's "lucky bags" at major department stores in central Tokyo on the first two days of the year, department stores officials said Thursday. [...]

Among popular lucky bags were those priced at 2,003 yen which included an assortment of foods, including sashimi, sushi and steaks.

Even for a bag worth 14.6 million yen that included two tickets for a round-the-world trip on a luxury liner, Seibu received 37 applications on Wednesday alone, the officials said.


=> http://www.japantoday.com/e/?content=news&cat=3&id=244630



This one is for you, Maciamo: ;)



And a mochi-related story:

5 people choke to death on sticky rice cakes

At least five people have choked to death on mochi sticky rice cakes in Tokyo during the Year End and New Year holiday season between Dec. 26 and Jan.2, officials said. During the same period, 25 others were taken to hospital by ambulance after the sticky cakes or other food was caught in their throats.

Most of the 25 injured people and five who died were 70 years old or older, including a 92-year-old woman who fatally choked on a rice cake on New Year's day while sipping a traditional Japanese-style soup called ozoni in Edogawa-ku. Every year at this time, a handful of people choke on such rice cakes.


=> http://mdn.mainichi.co.jp/news/20030102p2a00m0fp020001c.html
 
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*sigh* I wish I was in Japan during the New Year. Maybe I could buy a Hello Kitty doll dressed in a kimono at an Anime store in my hometown. I forgot the name of it, but I saw one in there once. While I'm at it, I'll try to make my version of rice balls---covered with fudge and top with a few strawberry slices.
 
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It looks as though no one has been here for awhile... perhaps I'll take a chance and ask about the ringing of temple bells on New Year's. I understand the occasion was broadcast throughout the country, it would be wonderful to know if anyone knows if a recording of this event has been made. larry
 
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And a mochi-related story:
5 people choke to death on sticky rice cakes

At least five people have choked to death on mochi sticky rice cakes in Tokyo during the Year End and New Year holiday season between Dec. 26 and Jan.2, officials said.
Four Choke to Death on "Mochi"
A 68-year-old man in the Tokyo suburb of Fuchu and a 76-year-old man in Sumida Ward died Tuesday after choking on the rice cakes, while a 74-year-old man in Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, and an 80-year-old man in Chikusei, Ibaraki Prefecture, choked to death Monday.
 

Dogen Z

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Temple Bells & Kadomatsu

It looks as though no one has been here for awhile... perhaps I'll take a chance and ask about the ringing of temple bells on New Year's. I understand the occasion was broadcast throughout the country, it would be wonderful to know if anyone knows if a recording of this event has been made. larry
This a very late answer, but there are a few vids on temple bell ringing on youtube.

If you go to a temple in person, get there before midnight because the last peal of the bell is supposed to end just at midnight so you can face the New Year cleansed of all your sins. (In the same vein, you should have cleaned your home from top to bottom.)


KADOMATSU

If you're going to display a kadomatsu at your residence (for health and prosperity in the coming year), you should do it now. Waiting till New Year's Day or even New Year's Day is considered disrespectful to the kami. Some merchants set theirs up from Dec. 22.
 

Dogen Z

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Shimenawa

Another Japanese New Year's tradition is hanging a shimenawa (made of rope with paper inserts) on home entrances to ward off evil/bad luck. This does not have to be done as early as setting out a kadomatsu.

 
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yeah looks like i will be getting drunk at the inlaws this year rather than the traditional american ritual of getting drunk at the bars. Happy new year everyone.
 

Dogen Z

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Akemashite Omedetou

Happy New Year from Japan!

During the first 3 days of the new year, many businesses are closed so there isn't much to do except to visit family and friends and watch Kohaku Gakussen Uta on TV.

You'll also hear a lot of Beethoven's 9th Symphony 4th Movement, Ode to Joy and a koto/shakuhachi melody, Haru no Uta.

[youtube]jWNsseBji6U&feature=related[/youtube]
 

Dogen Z

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One more week

Dec. 26, 2010. Just one more week til the new year, and my apartment still needs a bit more cleaning. I had so much lead time; time just flies, doesn't it. But at least all the heavy cleaning's done. Well, I'll spend the morning doing some osouji, then it's off to Loft in Shibuya to buy this guy...



FYI, the Loft and Tokyu Hands are selling a lot of this stuff along with mini-kodamatsu, shimenawa, calendars, diaries, etc. Seems to be very popular.
 

Dogen Z

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Okasane

An okasane is a small stack of 2 round pieces of mochi usually adorned with a tangerine on top and displayed in the family room of a Japanese household. If you ever saw one, you might be curious about its meaning. Well, it is a symbol of purity, abundance, or good luck - not quite sure which. Anyway it is supposed to be a kind of gesture for the family to have a good new year.



Another tradition is to eat a bowl of soba with the family on New Year's Eve for good health and a longevity.
 
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I don't about you guys but I always found New Years in Japan to be very boring. Then again, New Year in general seems rather boring to me.
 

Dogen Z

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I don't about you guys but I always found New Years in Japan to be very boring. Then again, New Year in general seems rather boring to me.
You bring up a good point. The New Year holiday in Japan is a family thing; kind of like Thanksgiving or Christmas (without presents) in the States. It's a time to reconnect with family and old friends. If you're not into that or don't have those in Japan, the New Year Holiday can be very boring as there is nothing else to do. Most retail establishments (stores & restaurants) are closed and most people have joined a mass exodus from the cities to their hometowns.

However, these days, New Year lasts only 1 day. In the past, it was 3-4 days with nothing to do. And, some of the more desperate retail places in Tokyo are even open on New Year's Day (Odaiba, Roppongi Hills, Ikebukuro Sunshine City).
 

Dogen Z

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Traditional Music

During the 1st week of the new year, both classical music and traditional Japanese music (shakuhachi & koto) can be heard almost everywhere in the cities, for example convenience stores & supermarkets. The soothing music is calming and relaxing, helping to prepare one for the challenges on the new year (This is just my opinion).

BTW, the popular tune, Haru no Uta, is often played at this time because in olden times the Japanese New Year used to begin just before spring.

And check out the 'New Year 2010' thread under the "News and Hot Topics" category.
 
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