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Encyclopedia > Japanese New Year
The kadomatsu is a traditional decoration for the new year holiday.
The kadomatsu is a traditional decoration for the new year holiday.

The Japanese celebrate New Year's Day on January 1 each year. Before 1873, the date of the Japanese New Year (正月 shōgatsu?) was based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar and celebrated at the beginning of Spring, just as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Years are celebrated to this day. However, in 1873, five years after the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar, so the first day of January is the official New Year's Day in modern Japan. It is one of the most important annual Japanese festivals and has been celebrated for centuries with its own unique customs. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (872x1500, 459 KB) This photograph shows a kadomatsu, a traditional decoration for the new year in Japan. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (872x1500, 459 KB) This photograph shows a kadomatsu, a traditional decoration for the new year in Japan. ... A kadomatsu (門松), literally gate pine, is a traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits or kami of the harvest. ... is the 1st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, akin to the Hebrew calendar & Hindu Calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For the river in Roussillon, France, see Têt River. ... The Meiji Restoration ), also known as the Meiji Ishin, Revolution, or Renewal, was a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japans political and social structure. ... The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world. ... This article is about January 1 in the Gregorian calendar. ... A festival is an event, usually staged by a local community, which centers on some unique aspect of that community. ... These pages contain the trends of millennia and centuries. ...

Contents

Traditional Japanese New Year's Food

Japanese people eat a special selection of dishes during the New Year celebration called osechi-ryōri (御節料理 or お節料理?), typically shortened to osechi. A popular soup is ozōni (お雑煮?), consisting of miso, glutinous rice dumplings ( mochi?) and vegetables. Also popular are knotted boiled kelp (昆布巻 konbumaki?), fish cakes (蒲鉾 kamaboko?), mashed sweet potato with chestnut (栗きんとん kurikinton?), simmered burdock root (金平牛蒡 kinpira gobo?), and sweetened black soybeans (黒豆 kuromame?). Many of these dishes are sweet, sour, or dried, so they can keep without refrigeration — the culinary traditions date to a time before households had refrigerators, when most stores closed for the holidays. There are many variations of osechi, and some foods eaten in one region are not eaten in other places (or are even banned) on New Year's Day. Today, sashimi and sushi are often eaten, as well as non-Japanese foods. To let the overworked stomach rest, seven-herb rice soup (七草粥 nanakusa-gayu?) is prepared on the seventh day of January, a day known as jinjitsu (人日?). The special food prepared for the New Year's week is a joy for many Japanese people. Osechi (お節) is a traditional Japanese New Year meal. ... Osechi (お節) is a traditional Japanese New Year meal. ... Zoni soup (ja: 雑煮, zōni) (or o-zoni) is a Japanese soup meal mainly eaten with rice cakes (mochi), and is nowadays generally eaten on New Years Day (shogatsu). ... Zoni soup (ja: 雑煮, zōni) (or o-zoni) is a Japanese soup meal mainly eaten with rice cakes (mochi), and is nowadays generally eaten on New Years Day (shogatsu). ... Miso ) is a traditional Japanese food produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and kōji (the most typical miso is made with soy). ... Rice Cake Pounding mochi in an usu Making mochi with a modern piece of equipment Mochi (Japanese: ; Chinese: ) is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. ... Kombu or konbu (Japanese: 昆布), also called dashima (Korean), or haidai (Chinese: 海带; pinyin: ), are edible kelp widely eaten in Northeast Asia. ... Bold textMason Struthers (Japanese Kanji: ?) is a variety of Japanese processed seafood products, called surimi, in which various white fish are pureed, formed into distinctive loaves, and then steamed until fully cooked and firm in texture. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Binomial name (L.) Merr. ... Assorted sashimi Sashimi (Japanese: ) is a Japanese delicacy primarily consisting of very fresh raw seafoods, thinly sliced into pieces about 2. ... Many types of sushi ready to be eaten. ... Jinjitsu ( in Japanese) literally means Mankinds Day. It is a custom that was adopted from Chinese culture, which also has its own version of Jinjitsu ( ren2 ri4 in Mandarin). ... Jinjitsu ( in Japanese) literally means Mankinds Day. It is a custom that was adopted from Chinese culture, which also has its own version of Jinjitsu ( ren2 ri4 in Mandarin). ...


New Year's Day Postcards

Materials for making nengajō

The end of December and the beginning of January are the busiest times for the Japanese post offices. The Japanese have a custom of sending New Year's Day postcards (年賀状 nengajō?) to their friends and relatives. It is similar to the Western custom of sending Christmas cards. Their original purpose was to give your faraway friends and relatives tidings of yourself and your immediate family. In a manner of speaking, this custom existed for people to tell others whom they did not often meet that they were alive and well. Image File history File linksMetadata NengajoM1020. ... Image File history File linksMetadata NengajoM1020. ... For the record label, see Postcard Records. ... Christmas is an annual holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. ...


Japanese people send these postcards so that they arrive on the 1st of January. The post office guarantees to deliver the greeting postcards by the first of January if they are posted within a time limit, from mid-December to near the end of the month and are marked with the word nengajo. In order to deliver these cards on time, the post office usually hires students part-time to help deliver the letters.


It is customary not to send these postcards when one has had a death in the family during the year. In this case, a simple postcard is sent instead to inform friends and relatives that they should not send joyful New Year's cards, in order to show respect for the deceased.


People get their nengajō from many sources. Stationers sell preprinted cards. Many of these have the Chinese zodiac sign of the New Year as their design, or conventional greetings, or both. The Chinese zodiac has a cycle of 12 years. Each year is represented by an animal. The animals are, in order: mouse, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Last year, 2006, was the year of the dog; this year, 2007, is the year of the pig. For 2006, famous dogs like Snoopy and other cartoon characters were especially popular. Chinese astrology (占星術 pinyin: zhan4 xing1 shu4; 星學 pinyin: xing1 xue2; 七政四餘 pinyin: qi1 zheng4 si4 yu2; and 果老星宗 pinyin: guo3 lao3 xing1 zong1) is related to the Chinese calendar, particularly its 12-year cycle of animals (aka Chinese Zodiac), and... For other uses, see Pig (disambiguation). ... For the American rapper, see Snoop Dogg. ...


The postcards may have spaces for the sender to write a personal message. Blank cards are available, so people can hand-write or draw their own. Rubber stamps with conventional messages and with the annual animal are on sale at department stores and other outlets, and many people buy fountain brushes for personal greetings. Special printing devices are popular, especially among people who practice crafts. Software also lets artists create their own designs and output them using their computer's color printer. Because a gregarious individual might have hundreds to write, print shops offer a wide variety of sample postcards with short messages so that the sender has only to write addresses. Even with the rise in popularity of email, the nengajō remains very popular in Japan.


Conventional nengajō greetings include:

  • kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお願いします?) I hope for your favour again in the coming year
  • (shinnen) akemashite o-medetō-gozaimasu ((新年)あけましておめでとうございます?) Happiness to you on the dawn (of a New Year)
  • kinga shinnen (謹賀新年?) Happy New Year
  • shoshun (初春?) literally "early spring"

Otoshidama

Pouch for giving otoshidama, called otoshidama-bukuro (お年玉袋).
Pouch for giving otoshidama, called otoshidama-bukuro (お年玉袋).

On New Year's Day, Japanese people have a custom of giving pocket money to children, which is a custom from China. This is known as otoshidama (お年玉). It is handed out in small decorated envelopes called 'pochibukuro', descendants of the Chinese red packets. In the Edo period, large stores and wealthy families gave out a small bag of mochi and a Mandarin orange to spread happiness all around. The amount of money given depends on the age of the child but is usually the same if there is more than one child so that no one feels slighted. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1600x1200, 688 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Japanese New Year Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (1600x1200, 688 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Japanese New Year Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Some examples of contemporary hong bao designs. ... The Edo period ), also called Tokugawa period, is a division of Japanese history running from 1603 to 1868. ... Rice Cake Pounding mochi in an usu Making mochi with a modern piece of equipment Mochi (Japanese: ; Chinese: ) is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. ... Binomial name Citrus reticulata The Mandarin orange or mandarin is a small citrus tree (Citrus reticulata) with fruit resembling the orange. ...


Mochi

Another custom of the Japanese is creating rice cakes ( mochi?). Boiled sticky rice (餅米 mochigome?) is put in to a wooden shallow bucket-like container and patted with water by one person while another person hits it with a large wooden hammer. By mashing the rice, it gets sticky and forms a sticky white dumpling. This is made before New Year's Day and eaten during the beginning of January. Rice Cake Pounding mochi in an usu Making mochi with a modern piece of equipment Mochi (Japanese: ; Chinese: ) is a Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice pounded into paste and molded into shape. ... Mochigome is a kind of Japanese rice used to make mochi. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Mochi is also made into a New Year's decoration called kagami mochi (鏡餅?), formed from two round cakes of mochi with a bitter orange ( daidai?) placed on top. The name daidai is supposed to be auspicious since it means "several generations." A deluxe version of kagamimochi A kagami mochi (鏡餅) is a traditional Japanese New Year decoration. ... A deluxe version of kagamimochi A kagami mochi (鏡餅) is a traditional Japanese New Year decoration. ... Binomial name Citrus aurantium L. var daidai (Makino) The daidai (Japanese:橙、臭橙; Chinese:代代花; Korean:ê´‘ê·¤), is an Asian variety of bitter orange. ...


Japanese New Year and poetry

The New Year traditions are also a part of Japanese poetry, including haiku and renga. All of the traditions above would be appropriate to include in haiku as kigo (season words). There also haiku that celebrate many of the "first" of the New Year, such as the "first sun" (hatsuhi) or "first sunrise", "first laughter" (waraizome — starting the New Year with a smile is considered a good sign), and first dream (hatsuyume). Since the traditional new year was later in the year than the current date, many of these mention the beginnings of spring. Grave of the Japanese poet Yosa Buson Waka and Kanshi, Chinese poetry written in Chinese, were the two great pillars of traditional Japanese poetry. ... Shut up Nick, youre wrong. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ... Cherry trees from Japan around the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. Kigo (season word(s), from the Japanese 季語, kigo) are words or phrases that are generally associated with a particular season. ... Hatsuyume (初夢) is the Japanese word for the first dream seen in the new year. ...


Along with the New Year's Day Postcard, haiku might mention "first letter" (hatsudayori — meaning the first exchange of letters), "first calligraphy" (kakizome), and "first brush" (fude hajime). Contemporary Calligraphy Calligraphy (from Greek kallos beauty + graphẽ writing) is the art of beautiful writing (Mediavilla 1996: 17). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


Games

It is also the custom of the Japanese to play many New Year's games. These include hanetsuki, takoage (kite flying), koma (top), sugoroku, fukuwarai (whereby a blindfolded person places paper parts of a face, such as eyes, eyebrows, a nose and a mouth, on a paper face), karuta, and others. Hanetsuki (羽根突き, 羽子突き) is a Japanese traditional game, similar to badminton, played with a rectangular wooden paddle, called a hagoita, and a brightly-coloured shuttlecock. ... Yokaichi Giant Kite Festival held on the fourth Sunday every May in Higashiomi, Shiga, Japan Kite flying is the activity of flying tethered man-made objects in wind. ... erendir A top with sides marked in Braille A top, or spinning top, is a childrens toy that can be spun on an axis, balancing on a point. ... Sugoroku (双六) refers to two different forms of Japanese board game, one similar to western backgammon and the other similar to western Snakes and Ladders. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Karuta , loaned from the Portuguese word meaning card (carta)) is a Japanese card game. ...


Hatsumōde, hatsuhinode, the firsts of the year

Celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the "first" time something is done in the new year. Hatsuhinode (初日の出) is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1st, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the new year. Hatsumōde (初詣) is the first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on January 1st or sometime during the day on January 1st. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono. Other "firsts" that are marked as special events include shigoto-hajime (仕事始め, the first work of the new year), keiko-hajime (稽古始め, the first practice of the new year) and hatsu-yume (初夢, the first dream of the new year.)


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Japanese New Year (3264 words)
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Japanese prints of the takarabune are a constant, seasonal theme from the eighteenth century on, and no doubt those surviving are but a small representation of the total number made for use.
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