How do you say happy new year in Japanese is Akemashite omedetō gozaimasu and the Japanese new year greetings is (あけましておめでとうございま) . Japan is the best place to celebrate new year because Japanese new year traditions are the best display of their love for this time of year. In Japan, they call it Nenmatsu-nenshi meaning “year end, year beginning” and it is considered as the blessed time of the year. Official new year break for most of people is from Dec 29 to Jan 3, and few people manage take holiday, full week of new year. This is the time when people chill, watch television, spend time with their family, eat Japanese traditional food.
Even many hospitals are completely closed for new year and sometimes, you’ll find bank ATM’s are not working. So, if you get late for grocery shopping, you’ll be in little difficulty but thanks to convenience stores to provide services, when most of nation shuts down.
Japanese new year traditions begin with sending special Japanese new year greetings called Nenga to their friends, family, colleagues and loved ones. Nenga is mostly send in handwritten written form that’s why Japanese New years cards (Nengajo) are high in demand. People try to buy it in early days of December and drop it till 25th December so that their Nenga should deliver on New Years Day, this is somewhat like Christmas cards in west. Sometimes, there is special number or code Nengajo tosen that may win you a little gift. Every year, Japanese postal department makes special arrangements to deliver all cards in such a busy time. For this they hire college students to help them with this.
Oosouji (Deep cleaning)
Japanese believes that New year should begin with cleaning off all bad luck from the previous year. In this Japanese new year tradition, whole family take part in deep cleaning of house called Oosouji.This is a part of New Year good luck traditions. Places like under the fridge or behind the sofa and upper cupboards of house, that are untouched throughout year is cleaned. It is quite tiring and exhausting but also gives a sense of relaxation that how well a house is cleaned.
Oshogatsu-kazari (Japanese New Years Decoration)
New year preparations are incomplete without Japanese New Year decorations. After oosouji, families start decorating house known as Oshogatsu-kazari. Japanese new year traditions are overflowing with beautiful cultural decorations name as kadomatsu (three bits of bamboo and some pine leaves), shimekazari (a New year’s wreath).
Kagamimochi (rice cake with tangerine on top) it is also known as Japanese New year mochi, is a special cake which is made by rice dough that is pounded by special hammer. It requires two persons, one who pound by hammer and other put ingredients and wet the dough.
Japanese New year decoration timing is also very important in Japanese culture, if you rush to make decorations at the last day of the year. That decoration is known as ishiya-kazari means “one-night decoration” and considered bad in Japanese New Years symbols. They believe that it will make the gods angry and bring bad luck instead of New years blessings. So, it is good to do decorate home before New Years Eve in Japanese new year traditions.
It is one of New Years Eve rituals to cook a traditional Japanese New year food called Toshikoshi Soba. It is made up of long noodles and has special meaning in Japanese New Years symbols. Long Soba noodles symbolize “Long life” and as they are easy to slip in throat means “letting go” or just forget what bad has happened in previous year. It is wish of long life and to start have a great new start in coming year.
To watch television is one of Japanese new year traditions. It is New Years Eve ritual to watch musical television show Kohaku Tagus. In this show all artists are by Johnny’s and it is more of optical pleasing show than melodious songs. In this show artists are divided into two teams: men (the white team) versus women (the red team) who face off singing contest. You might be thinking how can someone stay at home on New Year’s Eve, this time is all about party wildly with friends but in Japan this time spent with family at home.
Joya no kane
Joya no kane is a religious event of New Years Eve ritual, on midnight Buddhists temples all over the Japan ring their bonsho (Temple bells) 107 times and 1 time in day time symbolizing start of New Year in Japanese New Years symbols and 108 represents human desires. Buddhists believe that these human desires lead to pain and suffering. This ritual is meant to get rid of these negative desires from the past year. It is done by temple priest in front of thousand of visitors, who stay there to witness first sunrise of the New year.
The first sunrise of new year is called as Hatsuhindo and it is considered special in Japanese new year traditions. people gather on mountain tops, on grounds, beaches and many other places to catch the beautiful view of horizon. A sunrise is always associated with new start and hopes, there they pray to god for coming year and its blessings.
Hatsumode is the first pray of the year and is of great importance in Japanese new Year Traditions. Shirnes and Temples are crowded, everyone try to perform this pray as soon as possible, it is marked by queuing up in long waiting for their turn. It often takes 2 to 3 hours to for your turn. Most People perform this pray on first day but it is also performed on second and third day of New Year. It is New year good luck tradition to pray god for coming year to blessed
After Performing New Year’s pray, people head towards predicting fortune for coming year. Omikuji are small paper chits on which good or bad fortune are written and folded to create suspense . Stands are setup to sell omikuji and people purchase them for low price like 100 yen.
If you get chit that wishes good fortunes, it has great significance in Japan good luck symbols you can keep it and have great year ahead. But if you get omikuji with bad fortune written on it, no worries you can leave it in temple. There is special place reserved for it, just tie and chit with light hand to net, so that bad luck does not follow you.
Remember New Year is all about blessings, happiness and good luck!
Osechi ryori is the heart of in Japanese new Year Traditions, it is a special bento box in which different traditional Japanese New Year food are present and each food has a specific meaning in in Japan good luck symbols.
For example, Dai Dai, that is bitter orange symbolizes generation to generation, passing love, customs, from one generation to other. Shrimps symbolizes longevity, kuri-kinton (sweet chestnuts) for wealth.
It is Japanese family culture that women prepare all the food before new year so that they don’t have to cook on first 3 days of New Year. As it is a very time consuming and tiring process to cook that much food, so now a day’s people spend handsome amount of money to get these boxes ready from food shops. But still there are families who follow this tradition and make all food at
It is New year good luck tradition, fukubukuro literally means “lucky bags”, it is a goodie bag with mysterious gifts inside. Small stalls are specially set up for this and some shops also keep them, actually it’s their trick to get rid off their extra stock.
These bags have low price and are great in demand. People line up to get them and they are finish quickly. If you are really lucky enough, you’ll end up getting something very good in low. I personally it very much, its not the stuff or things inside it that excites everyone but the suspense that how is your luck working makes it special.
All Japanese new Year Traditions revolve around the theme of luck. Hatsu-yume, “First dream of the year” is another way to predict coming year. Dream that you have while sleeping on 1st January and waking up on 2nd January is of special importance. To interpret it well, there are Japanese New Year’s symbols you should know. Like seeing Mt. Fuji, hawk, or egg plant is indication of blessed coming Year in Japan good luck symbols
So I wish you all, to dream Mt.fuji and egg plant
Here is a little tip for you, if you are planning to spend holidays in Japan. Try to come in New Year days, I know its hard to get tickets and hotels in those days but make a little effort and try to plan early, this will make you experience all Japanese new Year Traditions and surely will surely amazed by Japanese New Year Decorations. New Year will be the most memorable trip of your life.
And If you are student in Japan or just moved here and confused what to do on New Year. I suggest you just do not be shy in participating New Year’s celebration with local community and don’t miss chance to buy “luck bags” and Japanese mochi.
If you new in Japan, please also read things not to do in Japan. I’m sure this will help you alot in socializing.