Traditions for the Japanese New Year


01/01/2015 Traditions & History

”Hatsuyume,” the first dream you see on the night of New Year’s Day.


Dream about good luck symbols! Mt. Fuji, a Hawk, and an Eggplant! In Japan,“Hatsuyume” is literally the first dream you see after December 31st and we have a custom to predict your fortune for the New Year by your Hatsuyume. It has been recognized as an important guideline on how to live the New Year. Traditionally, the lucky things you should see in your Hatsuyume were said to be Mt. Fuji, a Hawk, and an Eggplant, in that order (Fuji, Taka, and Nasubi). The combination looks a bit peculiar, but Mt. Fuji (fuji) symbolizes “Safe,” a Hawk (taka) represents “Higher,” and Eggplants (nasu) represent “Achievement.” However, the origin of this […]

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17/12/2014 Traditions & History

The ‘Nengajo’ Postcard: How Japanese People Send their Best Wishes for New Year

Japanese people exchange Nengajo postcards as New Year Greetings, much like Western people sending Christmas cards to each other.

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10/12/2016 Life and Manners in Japan  Traditions & History

Omisoka and O-Shogatsu: The Japanese Year End and New Year’s holidays


Today’s Shogatsu inherits some traditional customs and also adds more modern elements. Let’s see how Japanese people spend their Year End and New Year’s holidays!

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23/12/2014 Traditions & History

The Kadomatsu Decoration,Towers of Pine and Bamboo Traditional of the Japanese New Year’s Holiday


Kadomatsu is a decoration with three cut pieces of bamboo and pine for the Japanese New Year’s holiday. After Christmas, you will see this decoration at the entrances of houses’ and buildings’ in Japan.

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07/01/2015 Food & Drinks  Traditions & History

A Quick Guide to ‘Kagami Mochi’, the Japanese New Year Traditional Decorative Cake

During the end of the year and New Year’s holidays, you’ll see two donut-shaped objects with a mandarin on top of it. What is this snowman-like object?

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27/12/2018 Activities  Traditions & History  Visit: Parks & Nature

3 Mountain Lodges for New Year’s Eve and the First Sunrise of the Year

Although I prefer to go on day trips, I do enjoy staying the night of December 31st in a mountain hut and taking part in the tradition of “hatsuhinode” or seeing the first sunrise of the year on the 1st of January. There is something magical about spending the last hours of the old year and the first hours of the new year near the top of a mountain. In addition to the special year end food and drinks, seeing a beautiful sunrise is a great way to start the new year. The weather is usually excellent in this season, despite being cold, so you can also get in two days of solid hiking.

Here are three places which I recommend for doing hatsuhinode, with their pros and cons:

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19/12/2014 Food & Drinks  Traditions & History

Eating “Toshikoshi Soba Noodles” on December 31st will give you good fortune?


New years Eve (Omisoka) has arrived! In Japan we call the last day of the year, December 31st, Omisoka. This day is to rid oneself of negativity and prepare for the New Year. One end of the year custom is eating Toshikoshi Soba Noodles, commonly eaten on the last day of the year. Why, you ask?   Eat Toshikoshi Soba Noodles and free yourself from the hardships of the year! There are several reasons. First of all, the noodle is easy to cut, symbolizing the ability to cut off the evil and negativity of the year. Also, the noodle is long and thin, so it signifies living longer and being […]

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20/12/2014 Buddhism & Shinto  Traditions & History

Japan’s New Year “Oshogatsu” is to welcome the God Toshigami-sama, who brings abundance and happiness to each family.


Oshogatsu is to welcome the deity, Toshigami-sama. What is Oshogatsu? In Japan, the Toshigami-sama deity comes to each family and promises abundance and health throughout the new year. The event to welcome Toshigami-sama is called Oshogatsu. There are many preparations that are made for the welcoming of Toshigami-sama, so the end of the year is always very hectic. Welcoming the New Year is a happy event, or Omedetai! There is one greeting we say during Oshogatsu, “Akemashite Omedetogozaimasu,” or literally, Happy New Year. This first began as a blessing when people welcomed Toshigami-sama. The New Year is similarly thought of as the beginning of spring, because spring brings us new […]

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24/12/2014 Traditions & History

Clean away all of this year’s mess! Do a GRAND HOUSE CLEANING to greet the god into your clean house


Cleaning the house is a job for dad to do during his end of year holidays! Most people in Japan will start their New Year’s holidays from about next week. However, they can’t just laze around on the pretext that it’s holiday time. That’s because it’s the end of the year and there are so many things to do. One of the standard tasks at this time of year is a grand house cleaning. Before greeting the New Year, one must clean every nook and cranny of the house, spots visible to the eye and spots hidden away too. House cleaning is usually left completely up to the wife… but […]

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27/12/2014 Traditions & History

“Otoshidama” is the New Year’s gift that kids can’t wait for!


It’s what kids receive on New Years day for pocket money! In Japan we have a custom called “Otoshidama,” when adults give kids money on New Years day. There is a meaning behind it that says,“Happy New Year”and wishes for good health and happiness in the coming year. It’s a big event for children as they can finally buy some long awaited toys and games or save it for their future. Either way, it will be a good opportunity for them to learn about money. For parents it can be quite expensive because they not only give “Otoshidama” to their kids, but to their relatives children as well.   Originally, […]

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30/12/2014 Buddhism & Shinto  Traditions & History

“Joya no Kane,” the bells that ring out the old year and purify people’s hearts on the last night of the year


See the old year out with a calm and quiet heart How is everyone going to spend New Year’s eve? Some of you will probably spend it at a countdown party with your friends, having fun all night. In Japan, everybody looks forward to the New Year, but they actually welcome it in a quiet manner. If you have ever spent a New Year’s eve in Japan, you have probably heard the sound of the temple bells ringing in the middle of the night. But do you know the meaning of those bells being rung over and over again? The sound of those bells is called “Joya no Kane,” and […]

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31/12/2014 Food & Drinks  Traditions & History

Osechi boxes for the New Year’s holidays, a Japanese food tradition.

Osechi dish

Traditional dishes for the Japanese New Year’s holiday are Osechi boxes with a variety of lucky foods. Beautifully set in compartments of layered boxes, the food provides a very celebratory mood.

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03/01/2015 Traditions & History

Don’t miss the New Year’s fun lucky bags “Fukubukuro”!


You don’t know what’s inside, but it’s also a part of fun. As you may notice that there are full of events on New Year in Japan as we have been introduced many related articles on Tadaima Japan, it’s special time for us. “Fukubukuro” or the Lucky bags are part of its New Year events, and lots of shops sell their lucky-bags such as; groceries bags, general goods bags, clothes bags, and electricity bags. They often sell it in a limited quantity because the contents of lucky bags are usually way more expensive than the purchase price. Since you can’t see what’s inside, you can’t tell what you are going […]

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05/01/2015 Food & Drinks  Traditions & History

The Japanese New Year’s dish, “Nanakusagayu.”


Is this dish too simple for New Year’s festivities? “Nanakusagayu,” a dish from the Edo period. “Nanakusagayu” (rice porridge) is famously known by the Japanese and is one of many New Year’s dishes. Japanese New Year’s dishes usually contain many ingredients, but this porridge only uses 7 fresh young herbs. They are; seri (Japanese parsley), nazuna (shepherd’s purse), gogyo (Jersey cudweed), hakobe (common chickweed), hotoke no za (henbit), suzuna (turnip), and suzushiro (daikon), that are all collectively called the “Seven vernal flowers.” 【Photo by Hidetsugu Tonomura 】   Eat it while praying for good health in the New Year! The custom of eating “Nanakusagayu” on January 7th is an old tradition […]

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30/12/2015 Life and Manners in Japan  Traditions & History

Japanese Customs for January: Happy New Year!

Customs for January

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

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21/12/2018 Festivals & Events  Traditions & History  Travel Tips

From Soba to Sunrises: 4 Ways to Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Japan

Spending the New Year’s Holidays (January 1 to January 3) in Japan can be bittersweet. If you’re visiting Japan for the first time, there are many exciting traditions to experience. Long-term residents without familial roots in the country, however, may find themselves feeling lonely and isolated. Normally bustling cities like Tokyo become apocalyptic as large portions of its populace seemingly disappear for several days.

In either case, those who find themselves in Japan for the holidays should be aware that many businesses will be closed for extended periods—especially locally owned and operated shops. (You should be fine with the big chains, though. In fact, you may even be able to score some bargains).

So how can you make the most of this time of year? As someone who usually spends the holidays abroad, I turned to my network, both online and offline, for answers. Read on to hear the top suggestions from Japanese and non-Japanese residents alike.

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