Japanese New Year By Jenna Krueger

New Years


December 31st - january 3rd

Shogatsu (New Years) is one of the most important holidays celebrated throughout Japan. New Years is celebrated to leave the old year’s worries behind and provide a fresh start for the year ahead.

During this time, most businesses shut down and families gather to spend time together.


During osoji, or big cleaning, families and children deep clean the entire house. The tradition is performed in preparation for the New Year to begin fresh.

Otoshidama is the Japanese tradition of giving children decorated envelopes with cash, like the one above. Otoshidama is given to children by family members. The amount of money varies by age of the children, but averages 5,000 yen.

On New Years, the Japanese play special games, like Hanetsuki (Japanese badminton), takoage (kite flying) and Karuta (card game).

Osechi ryori is special food eaten New Year's Day to give thanks, and to wish for happiness and success in the new year. Osechi ryori is a variety of colorful dishes packed in special boxes called jubako. The special boxes are prepared before New Year's Eve, so everyone can enjoy the food and time with family.

Joya No Kane is the traditional bell ringing on New Year’s Eve. Buddhist temples around Japan ring bells 108 times, symbolizing the 108 types of desires and feelings we suffer on Earth. The bell ringing cleanses us of evil desires and purifies us for the new year.

Hatsumode is the first visit to a shrine during the first few days of January. Family and relatives pray together offering their first prayer of the year for a good year.

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