Return to site

Traditional New Year celebrations: Japan


· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

All you need is just 15mins, today! 每天給自己15分鐘學英語

Until 1873, Japanese New Year, or shogatsu, followed the traditional lunar calendar. Since then, it starts on Jan. 1, in keeping with the Western Gregorian calendar, and lasts two weeks.


One important part is the thorough housecleaning, or oosoji, that must be done before New Year’s Day. The roots of this tradition are religious. According to Japan’s indigenous religion, Shinto, a god enters the house at New Year’s, and stays there for a few days.


Several days before the new year, the kadomatsu is displayed at the entrance of the house to greet the toshigami (New Year god). These are decorations that vary from region to region, and can include bamboo shoots, symbolizing prosperity; pine, representing longevity; and plum branches, for steadfastness.


On New Year’s Eve, the Japanese eat a selection of dishes — osechi-ryori — many of which are sweet, sour, or dried, so they can be kept for a long time, as the tradition predates the arrival of the refrigerator. Traditionally, the women of the household prepared these dishes days before the New Year.


The traditional Japanese New Year’s Eve dish is toshi-koshi soba, a custom which started in the Edo period (1603–1868). Toshi-koshi means to cross from the old year to the new. Shrimp may also be eaten, as the shrimp’s curved back resembles that of an elderly person, and eating it is believed to promote long life.

Toshi-koshi soba 是日本傳統的除夕夜菜餚,這是源自於江戶時代(一六○三年–一八六八年)的習俗。Toshi-koshi意指由舊年邁入新年。人們也可吃蝦,因為蝦彎曲的背很像老人,因此吃蝦也代表著有益於長壽。

A few minutes before midnight, some temples ring a large bell 108 times: in Buddhism, the number of earthly desires that cause humans suffering.


On New Year’s Day itself, people receive greeting cards called nengajo, and give children money in decorated envelopes, a tradition known as otoshidama. The amount depends on the child’s age. Families will then make their first visit to a shrine or temple, a custom called hatsumode, either on New Year’s Day itself or a few days after.


Source article:

All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!