Customs for January

1st January to 7th January: the first visit to a shrine

The First shrine visit

Hatsumode, or the first visit to a shrine, is a custom for New Year in Japan.  Before, people used to visit a shrine at night after the sun set on New Year’s Eve, but now it’s common for people to visit in the morning, after breakfast. In some areas, people visit a shrine and pray exactly when the date changes. This custom is called “Ninen-mairi” (praying on two years).

Sun, 6th January: Shokan

Shokan is one of the 24 periods of the East Asian calendar.
In Japan, around the 6th of January, the traditional Oshogatsu (New Year) period finishes and everybody goes backs to their normal life (and work!).

Thurs. 7th January: Rice porridge with the seven herbs of Spring

Rice porridge with the seven herbs of spring

Rice porridge with the seven herbs of spring is a food that you eat after Oshogatsu to relieve your stomach. By eating the seven herbs of spring, people wish for a sound health in the new year.
For more detail, click here: Nanakusagayu.

Fri, 11th January: Kagami-biraki, or cutting a cake of pounded rice


The custom of eating a rice cake called Kagami-Mochi (click for more information) on the new year is called “Kagami-biraki”. A deity dwells in the rice cake so you can’t use a knife, because you’ll ‘cut’ your relationship with the deity. It’s usually broken with a wooden hammer and eaten in a soup. This rice cake is also eaten to wish for a sound health and a good family relationship.

Mon, 14th January: Coming of Age day

Coming of Age day

The second Monday of January is Coming of Age day.
In Japan, we celebrate “the coming of age 20”, because at 20 years old you are an adult in Japan. Ceremonies are held everywhere in Japan.
Young people dress in kimonos or formal suits.
Some people return to their parent’s house and attend a special ceremony, and seeing old friends is part of the fun.

Tue, 15th January: Dondo-yaki fire


Dondo-yaki fire is an event to burn sacred ropes and calligraphy to send a God to heaven. Its purpose is also to wish for sound health in the New Year.

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