What is Oshogatsu? ― Japanese Happy New Year

Japanese decorations for new year

Oshogatsuit’s a special occasion for celebrating a new year.

First, let me tell you the original meaning of this New Year’s event and how to celebrate it in Japan.

Originally, it’s to celebrate the gods of harvest and family ancestors.

There are special decorations for those.

Kadomatsu and shimekazari are decorated in front of houses.

Two displays of kadomatsu are placed on both sides of the entrance, while shimekazari is hung on the doors.

Kadomatsu is a New Year’s decoration made of bamboo and pine branches, and shimekazari is made of a small rope made from rice straws, with a beautiful holding fan-shaped paper.

Those are to welcome gods (They must be busy if they are going to visit everyone’s house).

There is another decoration, kagami-mochi.

Kagami-mochi is made up of small and large round rice cakes on top of each other.

It is a dish for the gods.

Except for kadomatsu, we can get decorations in a supermarket, which is really convenient nowadays.

There are many options, so you can choose an expensive one or an affordable one.

I am really used to seeing them because I am Japanese, but for people from other countries, I think that those would be beautiful oriental decorations.

This is kadomatsu. Welcoming the gods of harvest and family ancestors.

This is shimekazari, it’s really beautiful.

This is kagami-mochi. A traditional one.

There are many kinds of kagami-mochi recently. Kagami-mochi.We can buy it at a supermarket.

Dishes For Oshogatsu

One of the traditional dishes is osechi-ryori. There are many kinds of foods in osechi.

It contains kelp, sweetened chestnuts, fish tsukudani, and baked egg etc.

You can enjoy it not only with your tongue, but also your eyes. Because they are colorful and beautiful.

There is another traditional Japanese new year food, omochi.

It is sticky rice that you can eat both sweet and sour. There are many ways to season it.

All of them are delicious, so I ate 20 pieces of mochi in the past(lol).

Personally, I like it a lot.

Some people drink sake.

There are many kinds of sake, and it can be served hot or cold.

Amazake is also a kind of sake, but is non or low alcohol, hot and sweet,

It’s just the right drink to warm you up.

Osechi. You can enjoy seeing it.

Sake on New Year’s Day is even more satisfying than usual.

Activities in Oshogatsu

On New Year’s Day, families and relatives gather together to eat and drink and enjoy  meeting each other. After or before that, many people visit a shrine or a temple to pray for health and happiness in the new year. The first time visiting them ― it’s called “Hatsumode.”

Instead of that, some people go to Mt. Fuji or a sea or a hill to watch the first sunrise in the early morning. It is for praying also.

But nowadays, activities are becoming more diverse. Some people don’t go anywhere, just spending their time the same as on usual holidays. Some other people just sleep a lot ― it is called “Neshogatsu.” “Ne” means to sleep.

Some people don’t go back home and devote themselves to their hobbies. For example, playing sports or watching movies. Maybe students who are preparing for the university entrance examinations would be studying.

There are many ways to spend oshogatsu time nowadays. Personally, any way is okay if you can enjoy the term.

In my case, I would play tennis a lot…lol.

And of course, I will make new year resolutions, including “I will definitely become a fluent English speaker!”

Anyway, I know it’s a little bit early but…

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope everybody will be happy and enjoy the oshogatsu time!

On the new year’s day, I feel fresh!

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