Japanese Tradition: How to Welcome the New Year

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  • People eat Toshikoshi-soba which is buckwheat noodles eaten on new year’s eve. At midnight, people in Japan go to a temple to ring the bell. In Japan, there is a custom of ringing a bell as the new year comes. After doing that, they stop by the main hall of the temple to celebrate the new year and to pray for happiness.

    The first 3 days of the new year

    The temple keeps welcoming guests, as many as usual. People go to celebrate the new year, which is called “Hatsu-mode.” The monks chant the sutra to bring good luck of the next year. After the chanting, people drink “Toso”.

    About “Toso”

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    “Toso” is a kind of Sake. It is made of Japanese sake, mirin and special spice called “Toso san”. You can buy “Toso san” at a department store or supermarket during new year season.”Toso” is sweeter and milder than sake itself. Even kids can drink it if it’s just a little. ”Toso” is similar to “Amazake”, the only difference is drinking time. We drink “Toso” only to celebrate something such as new year, wedding, childbirth and so on. On the other hand, we drink “Amazake” at all kinds of festivals.

    About “Osechi”

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    “Osechi” is a traditional Japanese food for the new year prepared in a squared box. All ingredients have special meanings of good luck, prosperity or something positive. For example, salted helling roe means childbirth. The housewives cook “Osechi” at the end of the year preparing for the first 3days of the new year. The housewives are very busy with welcoming guests that they have no time to cook for. “Osechi” is helpful for that.

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    Recently, many hotels and department stores sell new-look-Osechi that doesn’t only use traditional Japanese ingredients but also Chinese and French ones. Now most of the young people lost interest in traditional “Osechi”.