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In Japan, on New Year’s Eve, you can choose between celebrating the New Year the traditional way or enjoying a countdown party with friends. Or you can actually go for both! Check out the features of the two different ways of welcoming the New Year in Japan.
The New Year is an exciting holiday everywhere in the world. However, although we all celebrate the same thing, we tend to celebrate it differently. If you are in Japan for the New Year you might be surprised that instead of a big party, New Year’s Eve in Japan is a quiet evening spent with one’s family.
Even so, you can actually choose between following the Japanese traditions or experiencing a modern twist on the New Year celebrations in Japan.
1. The Traditional New Year in Japan
Getting in the Festive Spirit with Decorations
Traditional Oshogatsu (New Year) decorations are available at many shops around the New Year. These include outdoor and indoor decorations.
They usually feature branches of pine tree, which symbolizes longevity and good luck, and bamboo which is a symbol of good health and resilience. Some of the decorations might also feature fruit such as mikan (Japanese mandarines) or the red berries of the plant called senryo (literally “a thousand coins”), which are symbols of wealth and prosperity.
So how about getting a traditional decoration filled with auspicious symbols?
If you really want to follow traditions, cleaning your house on New Year’s Eve is very important. It is believed that one needs to welcome the New Year with a clean house.
A New Year’s Eve dish that can’t be left out is Toshikoshi Soba. There are many ways to eat soba noodles, but whatever you do, don’t cut them, since they are supposed to be long and in one piece to signify a long life and happiness.
The traditional Japanese New Year food called Osechi, which consists of various dishes with auspicious significance, is eaten on New Year’s Day. As it takes a lot of time and care to prepare it, many people nowadays decide to buy it from the stores to save time. However, you have to order it in advance.
A Shrine or Temple Visit (Hatsumode)
After midnight you can go to a shrine and make a wish for the New Year. This first shrine visit of the year is called hatsumode. The more popular the shrine, the more people will be there, so you might have to line up. You can either go during the night or during daytime on the first seven days of the New Year.
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