【TRAVEL Q&A】What is Hatsumode? Q&A regarding Japanese year’s end and New Year’s holiday customs

30.December.2017 | FEATURES / SPOT

The year’s end and New Year’s holiday of 2017/2018 for most people will be from the 29th of December to the 3rd of January. In this article, I will introduce to you some year’s end/new year’s holiday customs in Japan.

 

What do you have to be aware of when traveling during the year’s end/New Year’s holiday?

Many stores and facilities are closed during this season. Make sure to check out the websites of the places that you want to visit beforehand.

 

 

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What is hatsumode?

“Hatsumode” is a New Year’s custom where people visit shrines and temples to wish for a good year. After offering prayers at temples/shrines, many people buy paper fortunes or amulets. To offer a prayer, visit shrines or temples. Each shrine/temple is considered to have different “powers” such as prosperity in business and success in academic learning so make sure to check out which shrine/temple suits your wishes. It is also fun to buy food/goods at stalls and it is recommended to eat some food like yakitori (grilled chicken), yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) and cotton candy. Don’t forget to wear warm clothes when visiting a shrine/temple.

 

Detailed information RE how to offer a prayer:https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/68492

 

 

Some customs during New Year’s holidays

There are some traditional decoration items for the New Year’s holidays.

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・Kadomatsu

Kadomatsu is a New Year’s decoration made of bamboo and pine tree branches and it is often decorated at the entrance of the house. Kadomatsu is thought to be an earmark decoration at the entrance of a house so that the Gods can come to one’s house directly.

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・Kagamimochi

Many Japanese believe that the Gods visit one’s house on New Year’s Day and kagamimochi is an item to welcome the gods. It is said that kagamimochi should be prepared before the 28th of December. The Gods will come to your house when the sun rises on the New Year’s Day so make sure to prepare it before the 28th. Kagamimochi must continue to be decorated until the 11th of January.

 

 

 

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Shinkansen bullet trains are very cworded!

Since many Japanese people meet with their family members during New Year’s holidays, shinkansen bullet trains can become very crowded. Therefore, it is recommended that you make a reservation in good time.

 

 

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What are hatsuuri and fukubukuro?

The word “hatsuuri” means the first sales in the New Year. Many stores sell fukubukuros (lucky bags with random products). By purchasing such a bag  one can try their luck. Usually, you cannot see what is inside the fukubukuro but some fukubukuros includes expensive items which means you have a chance to buy something expensive at a very low price.

 

 

What do Japanese people eat during year’s end and during the New Year’s holidays?

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・Toshikoshi Soba (buckwheat noodles)

“Toshikoshi soba” is a food which Japanese people eat on New Year’s Eve for good luck. The origin of this custom is unknown, but some people say this custom has the meaning of “severing bad luck by eating easy to break buckwheat noodles” or “wishing for longevity by eating long noodles.” You can eat these buckwheat noodles warm as in “kakesoba” or cold as in “zarusoba.” However, make sure to finish your noodle dish before New Year’s Eve ends because it is said that eating toshikoshi soba after crossing over into the New Year brings bad luck.

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・Osechi

Osechi is a multitiered box filled with food which brings good luck. Each food/ingredient brings a different kind of luck such as a rich harvest, perpetual youth and longevity and prosperity of descendants.

 

・Ozoni

Ozoni is a shoyu/miso flavored soup with mochi (rice cakes) inside. The shape of the mochi and ingredients differ depending on the house or the local area.

 

 

 

How did you like this introduction to New Years customs? Let’s have a wonderful trip during this coming holiday season.

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    [Saitama] Bath Cafe BIVOUAC

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    [Gifu] Activity Cafe Takayama Zenko-ji

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    Details: https://www.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/484296

     

     

     

    [Tokyo] NANARIDA

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    TEXT: Natalie(MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON)

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