Otaku Corner: New Years At Japan by Chloe

Konnichiwa, minna! Welcome back to another corner of Otaku Corner! 2015 has came and went so let us welcome the year 2016 with a bang. Before we carry on, akemashite omedetou to all the fellow readers and yoikotoshi wo! Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu *bows*.

Yes, for this corner, I will be taking you through some of the celebrations held in Japan during the new years. The Japanese New Year Celebration is called shogatsu. Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Greetings

Like other countries, people greet each other during the new year and it is the same here in Japan. In Japan, there are usually three wishes that you will hear during the new year.

  1. Akemashite omedetou 明けまして おめでとう!(or akeome for short) = Happy New Year
  2. Yoi kotoshi wo 良い今年を= Have a good year ahead.
  3. Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegashimasu 今年もよろしくお願いします= Please take care of me this year.

Popular Traditions  and Customs In Japan

There are several traditions in Japan which have been shown or mentioned in many series. These traditions are actual traditions and rituals that are practiced in Japan. Among the popular traditions are:

  1. Otoshidama (Kanji: お年玉)

Similar to the New Year’s celebrated in Malaysia, the Japanese also has a custom of    giving money to children during the new years. The amount varies from the people giving the money and the receiver.

2. Mochi (Kanji: 餅、もち)

A traditional Japanese decorative sweet, it is a rice cake that is made prior to the New Year celebration and eaten when the celebration starts. The charm point of the rice cakes are the decorations as the decoration is the main purpose as well as the highlight of making them.

3. Shrine Visits

Visiting shrines to make prayers is a traditional custom in Japan for good luck, health and for blessings. First visits of the year is called hatsumoede (Kanji: 初詣) and it is a norm for   female attendees to be dressed in full kimono during the visit. One of the customs during hatsumode would be to ring the temple bell as well to make wishes and prayers.

At shrines, there are several items being sold. Among the items include: omamori (Kanji: 守 or お守り); omikuji (Kanji: おみくじ) as well as a beverage called amezake (Kanji: 甘酒).

a.Omamori (Kanji: 守 or お守り)

 Omamori or Japanese amulets are bought for good luck or protection and it is commonly sold in shrines. Old amulets are returned to the shrine to be burned.

b. Omikuji (Kanji: おみくじ)

 Omikuji or fortune slips are also common in Japan. After paying, there will be a container  for you to ‘draw’ a numbered stick by shaking the container for a bit. After a numbered stick was drawn, the individual would get his or her omikuji slip according to the number on the stick. There are several degree of luck that can be drawn.         

 

Kanji Romanji English Translation
大吉 Daikiji Great Blessing
中吉 Chukiji Middle Blessing
小吉 Shokiji Small Blessing
Kiji Blessing
半吉 Hankiji Half Blessing
末吉 Suekichi Small Blessing
末小吉 Suesokichi Future Small Blessing
Kyo Curse
小凶 Ko Kyo Small Curse
半凶 Han Kyo Half Curse
末凶 Sue Kyo Future Curse
大凶 Daikyo Great Curse

 

In some shrines, there are English translations on the same slip.

c. Amezake (Kanji: 甘酒)

           Amezake or fermented rice wine is sweet and low or non-alcoholic drinks. During new  years, it can be found in many shrines. Due to its low alcoholic content, minors can also  drink this during the new year.

the-new-years-prayer
Source: tumblr_m9mfy5f9EQ1r2ibs2o1_1280

          Source: Screenshot from K-On

  That is all for now, ja ne minna! Have a good year ahead!            

 

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