Read about the origin, history and celebration of New Year (Shogatsu) in Japan.
Fundoo Times: Festivals: New Year: New Year in Japan

New Year in Japan

Origin and History of New Year in Japan

In the year 1873, Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar. Since then the first day of January is considered as the official New Year's Day in modern Japan. Before Meiji Restoration, they followed the Chinese lunar calendar and welcomed New Year just like the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese citizens. The day is considered as one of the most important annual festivals in the country. It is celebrated by the natives in their own unique customs. New Year Eve is celebrated from 31st of December to 3rd of January. Each day is celebrated with different names such as Oseibo, Bonenkai, Omisoka, Shogatsu, Otoshidama, Nengajo and Hatsumoude. According to the Buddhist legend, it is believed that there are 108 sins. Hence on this special occasion temple bells are rung 108 times for 108 sins defined by the Buddhist systems. Special meals are prepared for this occasion, each food has a symbolic meaning.

Local name: Shogatsu

Ways to celeberate Shogatsu in Japan

New Year Eve is celebrated in a big way by the people of Japan. The day is celebrated with lots of customs and traditions. On this day, they decorate their places with pines and bamboos. They are kept both outside and inside the houses. It is believed that pines and bamboos bring good fortune throughout the year. On this traditional day, the locals enjoy rice cake and exchange cards with the close ones. Shimekazari is considered a lucky charm to prevent misfortune and is therefore decked in various areas of the house. This special occasion is celebrated by eating exclusive Japanese delicacies such as osechi, fish cakes, sweetened black soybeans, mashed sweet potato with chestnut. Children are presented with monetary gifts in decorate envelopes.