New Year’s Day in Japan

Western people tend to spend the New Year’s Day going out with friends, but Japan is definitely more relaxing and traditional. In Japan, starting off the New Year is much more about spending time with family than it is about partying. Celebrating new year is a time of a year when people go back to their hometowns and eat traditional Japanese food such as “Osechi” with the family. I want to introduce what Japanese people tend to do on celebrating the New Year in Japan!

Traditional Food

“Osechi Ryori”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Osechi Ryori is traditional Japanese food for New Year’s day. Similar to bento boxes, they come in a different kinds of colorful dishes packed together. Every dish has special meaning in welcoming New Year, and it is one of the most important meals of the year.

The entire family shares 3-5 layers of Osechi. People usually eat Osechi Ryori as breakfast, and they start drinking Sake in the morning as well. Whenever I go back to Japan to celebrate, my parents always prepare for Osechi Ryori and nice sake for me and younger brother.

“Sukiyaki”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Sukiyaki is a special kind of hotpot, and Japanese people tend to eat for a special occasion, such as New Year’s day. It consists of thinly sliced beef which is slowly cooked in a sweet and salty soy sauce, alongside vegetables and tofu. Japanese people tend to use good quality of beef, and they usually dip the food in a small bowl of raw, beaten eggs. It is definitely one of my favorite Japanese traditional food.

“Ozoni”

Japanese New Year traditional food

Ozoni is a special soup that Japanese people eat for New Year’s morning. Japanese people tend to eat with Osechi. Although the preparation for Ozoni is different based on household and region, it usually includes mochi and variety of vegetables. What differentiates is their soup. In Kansai region, Ozoni consists of a clear soup with dashi and soy sauce. In Kanto region, Ozoni consists of white miso.

Traditional Activity

“Hatsumōde”

Hatsumode - traditional activity in Japan

Most of shrine and temple present Hatsumode across Japan on New Year’s Day. Many Japanese people tend to visit of the first, second, or third day of January. If you are in Japan during New Year, I recommend you experience the crowds of festivities. You will enjoy exploring a festive atmosphere with food stands. It is also traditional to purchase lucky charms for a fortunate new year.

“Otoshidama”

Otoshidama -  - traditional activity in Japan

Otoshidama is a Japanese traditional custom that adults give children money in the family.  If you are living in Japan and have children in the house, you should know about this Japanese tradition. Since many children will buy the toys with otoshidama, this is the biggest highlight of New Years for most of the Japanese children. Money is in small envelopes, and the amount given depends on the child’s age. It varies from 500yen to 10,000yen.

“Kakizome”

Kakizome -  - traditional activity in Japan

Kakizome is a Japanese tradition for the first calligraphy written at the beginning of the year. It is believed that if you write down your resolution on a piece of paper you are most likely to achieve that goal. Kakizome is one way to clear your mind and focus on expressing your determination using your favorite Kanji characters.

YAY! So now you learned something new about new year’s day in Japan! I hope you enjoyed the article, and let me know if there’s any questions!! 🙂

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5 thoughts on “New Year’s Day in Japan

  1. I had my first ever Sukiyaki during my trip to Japan last November. I can’t believe how delicious it was: our beef was cooked in a coconut sauce I think, and it was divine!
    This post brings back good memories.

  2. Loved learning about these traditions. I love the idea of the children with their little envelopes, so cute! Thanks for sharing a beautiful insight in to Japanese culture x

  3. I love learning about how other cultures celebrate holidays! Japan seems to have a lot of New Years customs involving food and they all sound so yummy, especially the sukiyaki!

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