Japanese New Year 2014 (Shogatsu) – Traditions & Culture

The Japanese New Year is Oshogatsu. Japan has accepted the solar calendar since 1873 according to which the New Year celebration starts on January 1. However, in pastoral Japan, villagers continue to follow the lunar calendar according to which Oshogatsu is the

More about Japanese New Year

Japanese New Year (shogatsu or oshogatsu) is the most significant holiday in Japan and during this, most of the businesses remain shut from January 1 to January 3 during which families normally gather to spend these days collectively. This Japanese New Year celebration lasts for at least five to six days.

japanese new year, shogatsu

Everything associated with the New Year is representation of “firsts” of the New Year thus; the New Year gives a feeling of regeneration. On New Year’s Eve, just before long midnight, Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times to remember Japan’s destitution. This ceremony is a way to send out the old year and welcome the new. People celebrate Japanese New Year by decorating their homes and entrance gates with several ornaments made of pine, bamboo and plum trees, along with cleaning their clothes and houses to make them look fresh and new.

January 1 is a very fortunate day, which is started by viewing the New Year’s first sunrise (hatsu-hinode), as it is usually believed to be representative for the whole year that has just started. This day is believed to be fill with joy and free from stress and anger, at the same time everything should be clean and no is said to work.

Japanese New Year is the time for harmony and resolution, as Japanese people do not go to work on New Year’s Day but they simply rest and celebrate the holiday with their family members and visit temples to pray for a prosperous and healthy New Year. The first visit to the temple is called “Hatsu Mohde,” which means the first visit.

On Japanese New Year’s Day, the family starts the New Year with a ” breakfast of mochi” or rice cake, this rice cake is served in a stew called “Ozoni.” A well-accepted New Year activity is Rice thumping to make mochi rice cakes. However, several modern Japanese families buy them from markets also.

Just like other Asian New Year customs, adults give money to children on New Year’s Day and it is called as “otoshi-dama” or the “New Year treasure.” Children also play various games and a popular game played by children is “Furuwarai” which is the American version of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Some of the other games that are usually played on Japanese New Year are Hanetsuki (Japanese badminton), takoage (kite flying), and karuta (a card game); however, their popularity has shown a decline in recent times.

One can also come across several “good luck” ornaments associated with the Japanese New Year among which Cranes and turtles are symbols of durability and contentment.

People send New Year cards that are specially marked, to be delivenavy on January 1 aiming to wish a prosperous Japanese New Year.


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