Japan Australia Pages

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year’s in Japan

New Year’s or Oshogatsu (正月) in Japan is one of the most important holidays. Most people will return home to spend the time together with their families. Many people visit a temple at Midnight on December 31st as Buddhist temples all around Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires.

New Year’s Day is meant to be full of joy and happiness with no stress or anger. Everything should be clean and you should not work on this day. It is tradition to visit a Shrine or Temple during Oshogatsu.

Here are some traditions and customs that are followed during New Year’s in Japan

Shimekazari - a small rope made from rice straws, with carefully crafted zigzag-shaped paper strips called shide. Shimekazari is used to keep the bad spirits away.

Image by h_okumura

Toshikoshi Soba – eaten on New Year’s Eve and symbolises longevity.

Image by gaku
Osechi Ryori (御節料理) – special dishes served during New Year’s and usually consist of konbu (boiled seaweed), kamaboko (fish cakes), kinpira gobo (burdock root), and kuromame (sweetened black beans).

Image by beegkahuna

 Ozoni (お雑煮) – a soup made with mochi (rice cakes) traditionally served on New Year’s Day.

Image by kimubert
Nengajo (年賀状) – Japanese custom of sending a New Year’s Day postcard to friends and relatives. It is very similar to our custom of sending Christmas Cards.

Image by Blue Lotus
Otoshidama (お年玉) – special money given to children on New Year’s Day. It is handed out in small decorated envelopes by family and relatives. The amount varies depending on the age of the child, but typically will be either ¥5,000 (USD$60) or ¥10,000 (USD$120).

Image by yuisotozakiphotography

Mochi (餅) – a favourite custom is creating mocha or rice cakes from boiled sticky rice. This is usually made before New Year’s Day and eaten during the start of New Year’s in January.

Hope you have a great New Year's and all the best for 2012


  1. Thanks for sharing an insight of how Japanese celebrates New Year. :)

  2. Love that burdock. Kinpira or fried or whatever. It is yummy.

    Hey, good post.

  3. Nice description about お正月。 My family and I'll go to my parent's house in お正月。It's common among us.

  4. Thanks Lina, I really enjoy New Year's in Japan and it is a chance to catch up with family and enjoy a well deserved rest :)

  5. Thanks Daniel, I love Burdock Root as well especially in kinpira gobo :)

  6. Thanks Cocomino, Yes, we always return to my wife's home in Japan as well and enjoy the time with the family :)

  7. Our Japanese friends gave my kids i-tunes gift cards as a New years gift. I really love Japanese New Years decorations, especially if they are made from chirimen. Have a good trip to Japan!

  8. Thanks Lisa, Hope you have a Great New Years celebration as well and all the best for a great year in 2012 :)

  9. @Japan Australia,
    So, you are going back to Japan to celebrate New Year? That is so nice. :)

  10. Thanks Lina, Not this year! The family is coming to us :)

  11. happy new years JA! wishing you a have an awesome 2012!

  12. What a lovely and interesting collection of traditions. I wish we had more traditions here connected with New Year, apart from just getting drunk :)

    A wonderful New Year to you!

  13. Happy dragon year, Japan-Australia! I hope you're enjoying the time with your family, and all the best for 2012!

  14. Thanks Reesan, Hope you have a great 2012 and all the best :)

  15. Thanks Jenny, It is great having some cool traditions and customs. In Australia, it is just a big booze up with friends, which isn't bad, but love the family oriented side of a Japanese New Years :) Hope you have a great 2012!

  16. Thanks Rurousha, Happy Dragon Year to you, too. Hope 2012 is great for you and all the best for the New Year :)


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