Celebrating the New Year with Japanese Traditions

Good-Bye 2017, Hello 2018! Overall, 2017 has been a year of tremendous growth and I’m ready to ring in 2018. It will be the Year of the Dog. Currently, I’m planning my blog editorial calendar and Japan pitches, as well as putting the final touches on some personal projeects.

Little Kaiju will be spending her very first New Year here in Japan. Here’s a peek at her hago ita (羽子板).

Teni Wadaさん(@wadateni)がシェアした投稿

New Year’s celebrations in Japan are very understated compared to in the West. In recent years, though, New Year’s countdowns and parties are catching on in bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka.

The Japanese New Year or o-shougatsu (お正月) has plenty of traditions that allow you to reflect on the previous year and start the new year on the right foot.

Here’s a few ways to incorporate Japanese New Year traditions to kick off the Year of the Dog!

Japanese New Year Preparations

Get a primer on Japanese New Year celebrations with this super resourceful piece. Find out the meanings of Japanese decorations like kagami mochi (鏡餅, above), shimekazari (しめ飾り), and kadomatsu (門松) and how Shinto influences Japanese lifestyles. You’ll learn a bit of Japanese in the process — a majority of objects are added because they are pronounced the same as auspicious items.

10 Ways to Celebrate the New Year in Japan

On December 31, I’ll be watching the singing contest Kouhaku followed by the ringing of the new year’s bells. Normally I watch the annual comedy show Gaki no Tsukai Zettai Waratte wa Ikenai, but this year’s theme is “American police” (link in Japanese), which is a tad too tone deaf for me considering the curent political climate of the US.

Otoshidama (New Year Money) – Top 10 Must Knows

Otoshidama (お年玉), or gift money, isn’t just for kids. I will always remember a kabuki actor mentioning that the the otoshidama that he gets yearly from this father is enough to buy a kei class car — That’s at least 1 million yen (10,000 USD)!

Fukubukuro Lucky Bags in Japan – 10 Tips for Smooth Shopping

When I first came to Tokyo in 2004, I fell in love with gyaru fashion. I loved it so much that I saved up during the school year and came to Tokyo during winter vacations. The highlight of my winter escapes was shopping for fukubukuro (福袋), or lucky bags.

From 2007 to 2009 I worked in Shibuya 109 and experienced fukubukuro madness as a shop staff. Three years of retail chipped away at the allure of fukubukuro shopping but it was an incredible experienece.

Countdown to 2018

As the last blog post of 2017 I’d like to thank you all for your encouragment on this new endevaor! Little Kaiju and I will return shortly with a new post. Best wishes to you in the new year!

For more info on Japanese culture and traditions, check out these posts:

Baby’s First Christmas – Hajimete No Kurisumasu 

Half Birthday – Celebrating 6 Months of Life Together

Okuizome – An Elaborate Feast for Baby

O-Shichiya & Meimei-shiki – Japanese Baby Naming Tradition

O-Miya Mairi – Taking Baby to a Shrine

Inu no Hi – A Shrine Visit for Pregnant Women

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