The Japanese have achieved the perfect blend of tradition and modernity in their New Year celebration. Japanese New Year is at present celebrated in accordance with the modern day Gregorian calendar which the Japanese have adopted for the sake of convenience.

As such the Japanese New Year celebrations happen as per the modern date. So, Japanese New Year 2015 would be celebrated on Thursday, January 1, 2015. But while celebrating this event the Japanese people have adhered to their culture, tradition and heritage. Japanese tradition is very rich, and that is reflected in their New Year celebrations.

The Japanese New Year goes by the name of Shogatsu. The celebrations of Japanese New Year are spread over a fortnight. Preparations begin much before the actual day, and celebrations too may last for multiple days. Now let us have a glance at the Japanese way of celebrating the New Year.

    • Clean the House – This is the first step to welcome the New Year. The homes are given a thorough spring cleaning. Even offices and other business institutions receive the similar treatment to mark the occasion.


    • Decorate the House – Traditionally Japanese homes and businesses were decked up with various kinds of decorations made of bamboo and pine on the occasion of the New Year. It is believed that pine being an evergreen vegetation represents the fact that life goes on after one takes all hurdles to the strides that may cross the path in the journey. Bamboo represents two things – the straight structure of bamboo personifies virtuous properties, while the ability to multiply rapidly is symbolic of the fact that New Year is the time to gain more strength and virtues. It is believed that every home or business should have a wreath made up by braiding rice straw ropes. This signifies that the place has been purified and is now ready to usher in positive spirits.


    • Visit Family – Japanese New Year celebrations are essentially family centric where people enjoy in the company of family and close friends. People often visit their ancestral place during this time. Those staying away from home generally make a trip to their home to celebrate the occasion with the family.


    • Bell Ringing – The temples in Japan become resonant with the chimes of the temple bell on the evening of the New Year’s Eve for it is a tradition to ring the temple bell for 108 times. This custom has stemmed from the Buddhist belief that there are 108 kinds of sin that a human being is fallible to in the journey to acquire worldly pleasures. Each bell represents one of the sins, and the chiming of the bell is a reminder to the people of the sins and also a warning to them to stay away from them. People in Japan believe that hearing the bells would kind of purify them relieving from the sins that they may have committed in the year gone by. This chiming of the bell is also the announcement that the New Year celebrations are about to begin for the actual celebrations start after people hear this.


    • Bonenkai – This is essentially an intimate party organized to give on the New Year’s Eve to give the outgoing year a celebratory farewell. People gather around low tables that are surrounded by tatimi mats. Often people make a speech. Traditional Japanese cuisine is served for the occasion.


    • Toshikoshi Soba – These are the long noodles that are usually served during the New Year’s eve gathering, the length of the noodles signifying longevity.


    • Mochi – These handmade rice cakes are an integral part of the Japanese New Year celebrations, and are often used even in the decorations. Made into a décor, it is known by the name of kagami mocha which is nothing but two of the rice takes put together on which a tangerine is placed. These are eaten on a specific day as per norms.


    • Nengyo – This is basically New Year greeting card that the Japanese send to their families and friends. These post cards have traditional pictures on them. The Japanese postal service works extra hard to ensure that these cards reach to the recipients on January one as long as they are posted within a given time frame. However, if there has been a death in the family in the year gone by, then the family sends mourning cards in advance asking people not to send them greeting cards that year as a mark of respect for the departed soul.


    • Otoshidama – There is a Japanese tradition of gifting the children of the household some money on the occasion of the New Year. Traditionally the amount that was gifted depended upon the age of the recipient. The money was put in an envelope and presented to the child. In modern times however, an equal amount of money is gifted to all the children of the house so that there is no feeling of disheartenment on this joyous occasion. Businesses also send gifts to their esteemed clients.


    • Visit a Shrine and make offerings – People gather in the shrines and make offerings. It also allows them to interact with their neighbors and acquaintances and greet them on the New Year.


    • Kohaku Uta Gassen – Playing or listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a tradition that is observed on this occasion all across Japan. People either visit concerts to listen to it or enjoy it in radios and televisions. Many music competitions are also organized.


    • Osechi – Japanese people abide by the tradition of eating some food items that theu consider auspicious during this time. Food items include egg, mocha soup, fish cake, black beans, spiced sake etc.


    • New Year Resolutions – Like most people across the globe Japan too embraces the principle that New Year is the time to turn a new leaf. As such, people often make resolution to make their life better in the coming days.


    • Throwing a party and playing party games – New Year is a time of fun and frolic in Japan, and as such many parties are organized for. Apart from party games, chatting and feasting, it is a common custom to fly kites.


    • Hatsumode – This is the tradition to attach importance to the first activities done in the New Year, like first meal, first writing etc. A common tradition is also to see the first rays of the rising sun, and people often travel to mountains or sea side to experience that.


    • Kagami Biraki – This is observed on the eleventh day of the month of January when the rice cakes décor that were made at the onset of the New Year are cooked to be consumed.


    • Visiting Dondoyaki – This is the last of the New Year celebrations. People often visit the local Shrines or temples for this. Here a bonfire is arranged where people burn New Year decorations and other objects that were considered auspicious and used for the New Year celebrations. After the New Year celebrations are officially over, people enjoy drinking a special sake in each other’s company.


New Year Around the World

January 1st – History Chinese New Year Hindu New Year
Hmong New Year Islamic New Year Japanese New Year
Jewish New Year Korean New Year Thai New Year
Persian New Year Tibetan New Year Vietnamese New Year


New Year 2015 New Year Messages New Year Wishes
New Year Quotes New Year Resolutions Vedic Astrology 2015
2015 – Year of the Sheep 2015 Events 2015 Holidays
2015 Holidays in India 2015 UK Holidays 2015 US Holidays
2015 Hindu Festivals 2015 Federal Holidays 2015 Jewish Holidays

2015 Calendar

Printable Calendars Desktop Calendars Hindu Calendar
Muslim Calendar Christian Calendar Jewish Calendar
Bahai Calendar Rastafari Calendar Zoroastrian Calendar
Pagan Calendar Jain Calendar Shinto Calendar
Buddhist Calendar Sikh Calendar