Japanese New Year celebration is called shogatsu takes place from January 1-3. New Year's Day on January 1 is called Ganjitsu (元日) and is a Japanese national holiday. People say to each other "ake-mashite-omedetou-gozaimasu" (Happy New Year) *sensei Baby SN wish I cenggini, I nganga je sbb tak tau camne nak jawab balik kui3x*.
Before midnight on New Year's Eve, temples around the country begin to ring bells 108 times called joya-no-kane. It is said that the tolling of the bells purify ourselves of our 108 worldly desires. People say to each other "yoi otoshiwo" which means "Have a nice year passing" on New Year's Eve.
People usually spend New Year's holidays quietly at home eating various food *tak macam kat tempat kita, keluar gi konsert lah, bunga api lah, clubbing lah hohoho*. There is a custom of giving money (otoshidama) to children during New Year's holidays in Japan.
Japanese people eat special dishes called osechi ryori during shogatsu. The foods are colorful and artistically presented. Each dish has a particular meaning. For exampl; prawns for long life, kuromame (sweet black beans) for health, kazunoko (herring roe) for fertility, tazukuri (teriyaki taste small sardines) for a good harvest, kurikinton (sweet chestnuts and mashed sweet potato) for happiness, and so on. It is also traditional to eat mochi (rice cake) dishes during New Year's holidays. Zouni (rice cake soup) is the most popular mochi dish.
Here are the list of events that my family & I have joined for this 2010 new year celebrations :-
Since it's traditional for the Japanese to eat rice cake (mochi) during New Year's holidays, mochi-tsuki (pounding of mochi rice) is done at the end of the year. We had another mochitsuki event organized by the management of our international student apartment on 26th Dec 2009 ago. Our first experience with mochi-tsuki can be read in my previous entry : Japanese Rice Cake : Mochi (click).
(2) Hatsumoude at Dazaifu Temangu Shrine
It is traditional for Japanese people to visit (hatsumoude) to a shrine or a temple during New Year's holidays. People pray for safety, health and good fortune. It is not a very religious event but rather a custom. Many well-known temples and shrines are extremely crowded. Some temples and shrines expect a couple million visitors during New Year's holidays each year. Since it is not a religious event, we decided to experience the event by joining the millions of Japanese people at Dazaifu Temangu Shrine on Jan 1, 2010.
According to my labmate, Ueno-kun ; Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine is the shrine where Michizane Sugawara, God of Academic is worshiped. People from all over Japan visit here to pray for the success in their study. We had the chance to try on one of the specialties of Dazaifu Temangu Shrine known as Umegae-mochi, which is a special rice cake with pasted sweet beans inside. Ume means plum, and it is the simbol of Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine.
Toka Ebisu shrine is usually quiet but it becomes busy with many visitors during the new year festival called “Toka Ebisu”, held from January 8th to 11th. It is located inside Higashi Park at Yoshizuka, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City.
Naturally, the enshrined gods of the shrine are Kotoshironushino-Okami “Ebisu” and Okuninushino-Okami “Daikoku”. Over a million people visit here and wish for the success in business or family prosperity.
During the festival, visitors visit to the shrine and receive bamboo grass, a straw bag, a bamboo rake, a charm, an amulet, a gold coin and other special good luck items, these are all very precious to the Japanese people. The bamboo grass has straight, elastic trunk and leaves. The leaves do not wither quickly and is a symbol of success in business.
Coming of Age day a.k.a hari cukup umur (成人の日, Seijin no Hi) is another Japanese new year event held annually on the second Monday of January. It is held in order to congratulate those who have reached the age of 20 years old , and to encourage them on realizing the fact that they have become adults; meaning that they can now do SDV (Smoke, Drink and Vote) *aiyoyo..bahaya nih ngeeeeeee*.
*Malaysian in Fukuoka during Sejinshiki 2010* - captured by Paan : pon boleeyy
# Info's gathered from gojapan, wikipedia & japan hover. #