Leading up to Shogatsu, people typically clean their homes to prepare for the new year and decorate with items such as kadomatsu (bamboo and pine decorations) and shimenawa (sacred Shinto rope).
On New Year’s Eve, it is traditional to eat soba noodles and listen to the ringing of the temple bells, which are rung 108 times to represent the 108 worldly desires. At midnight, it is customary to eat a special soup called toshikoshi soba, which symbolizes longevity and good luck for the new year.
On New Year’s Day, many people visit shrines or temples to pray for good fortune in the coming year. They may also participate in traditional games and activities, such as hanetsuki (a game similar to badminton), or enjoy special foods such as ozoni (a soup made with mochi rice cakes).
Overall, Shogatsu is a time to reflect on the past year and look forward to new beginnings, with a focus on family, tradition, and good fortune.
The history of Shogatsu (Japanese New Year) can be traced back to ancient times in Japan, when it was based on the lunar calendar and celebrated on various dates in late January or early February. However, in 1873, the Japanese government adopted the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the date of New Year’s Day to January 1st.
The celebration of Shogatsu has been an important part of Japanese culture for centuries. In ancient times, it was a time to honor the spirits of ancestors and deities and pray for a good harvest in the coming year. Over time, the holiday has evolved to include a range of customs and traditions, many of which are still practiced today.
One of the most significant traditions associated with Shogatsu is the practice of osoji, or “big cleaning,” which takes place in the days leading up to New Year’s Day. This tradition is meant to purify the home and prepare for the new year.
Another important tradition is the preparation and consumption of special foods, such as toshikoshi soba (long noodles symbolizing longevity), osechi ryori (a traditional New Year’s feast), and ozoni (a soup made with mochi rice cakes).
Today, Shogatsu remains an important holiday in Japan, a time for families to come together, enjoy traditional foods and activities, and celebrate the beginning of a new year.
Shogatsu, or Japanese New Year, is the most important holiday in Japan and is celebrated in a variety of ways. Here are some common ways to celebrate Shogatsu:
- Prepare for the new year by cleaning your home and getting rid of any clutter.
- Decorate your home with traditional New Year’s decorations such as kadomatsu (bamboo and pine decorations), shimenawa (sacred Shinto rope), and kagami mochi (a stack of two mochi rice cakes).
- Attend a temple or shrine to pray for good fortune in the coming year.
- Enjoy traditional New Year’s foods such as toshikoshi soba (long noodles symbolizing longevity), osechi ryori (a traditional New Year’s feast), and ozoni (a soup made with mochi rice cakes).
- Watch the first sunrise of the new year, which is considered to be a symbol of good luck.
- Send nengajo (New Year’s cards) to friends and family.
- Spend time with family and friends, playing traditional games such as hanetsuki (a game similar to badminton) or karuta (a card game).
- Watch the annual New Year’s Day sumo wrestling tournament.
- Participate in Hatsumode, the first visit to a temple or shrine of the year.
- Attend the first sale of the year (Fukubukuro), where stores offer lucky bags filled with surprise items.
These are just a few ways to celebrate Shogatsu. The holiday is a time for family, tradition, and new beginnings, and the exact customs and traditions