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HomeLanguage LearningCelebrating Shōgatsu: The Final Information to Japanese New Yr

Celebrating Shōgatsu: The Final Information to Japanese New Yr

The enjoyment of celebrating holidays is common. Wherever you go on the earth and it doesn’t matter what time of 12 months, you will see folks eagerly anticipating the following huge day of their neighborhood. 

For New Yr’s, each nation celebrates with their very own traditions. In america, People collect in Occasions Sq. to look at the ball drop and lightweight fireworks at house. Brazilians hit the seaside wearing white. In Denmark, individuals are leaping into the New Yr by leaping off their chairs.

Japan isn’t any exception! On shōgatsu, consuming scrumptious meals, visiting shrines and temples, and watching the solar rise on a brand new 12 months are all among the many many traditions Japan passionately observes. Even if you happen to can’t journey there your self, Japanese communities wherever you reside rejoice with their traditions nearer to house.

Studying the Japanese language can be an incredible avenue to deepen your understanding and appreciation of those traditions. Rosetta Stone presents accessible classes, studying instruments, and extra to immerse your self in 25 languages, together with Japanese.

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When is Japanese New Yr?

The Japanese New Yr follows the Gregorian calendar like a lot of the world and begins on January 1st, with December thirty first being New Yr’s Eve. Nevertheless, the festivities lengthen to January third in Japan and the nation observes all three days as public holidays.

These three days are known as sanganichi. Japanese households collect, go to family members, and revel in their days off over your complete span of the New Yr celebrations.

How do you say “Pleased New Yr” in Japanese?

The expression you employ relies on which day you’re wishing one other individual Pleased New Yr. It is because the phrases maintain totally different cultural meanings earlier than and after the New Yr. In case you are expressing your effectively needs within the final days of the 12 months, the desk under reveals examples of how one can say Pleased New Yr in Japanese. 

Japanese Japanese (Japanese characters) English
Kotoshi mo osewa ni narimashita. 今年もお世話になりました。 Thanks on your assist once more this 12 months.
Yoi otoshi wo osugoshi kudasai. 良いお年をお過ごし下さい。 I hope you have got a Pleased New Yr.

These may very well be used when greeting neighbors or coworkers, particularly at a bōnenkai (overlook the 12 months celebration). The primary phrase particularly is vital, because it expresses gratitude on your relationship with the opposite individual. It sounds unusual to the ears of a local English speaker, however it’s nonetheless an vital cultural sentiment.

As soon as the brand new 12 months begins, the phrases change.

Japanese (Roman alphabet) Japanese (Japanese characters) English
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. あけましておめでとうございます。 Pleased New Yr! 
Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu. 新年おめでとうございます。 Pleased New Yr! 
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. 今年もよろしくお願いします。 I hope you have got a Pleased New Yr.

In case you solely bear in mind one expression for the brand new 12 months, pay attention to the primary one! It’s the most versatile and acceptable for whomever you’re speaking to. The third expression is a mirrored image of the primary expression within the earlier desk: you’re hoping your relationship will proceed to be good.

In different contexts, you may even see oshōgatsu as a substitute of shōgatsu. They’ve the identical that means, however the distinction is a matter of politeness. The prefix “o-” denotes a stage of respect to the phrase and makes the speaker sound barely extra formal. For instance, in eating places, that is generally added to the phrase sushi to make osushi. Each are acceptable, however lean towards oshōgatsu in case you are attempting to be additional well mannered. 

>>Eager about different phrases that don’t translate effectively to English? Take a look at these distinctive expressions.


Japanese New Yr traditions

New Yr’s is stuffed with occasions each enjoyable and ceremonial alike. Kids obtain otoshidama (presents of cash in purple and white envelopes) from grownup relations. Colourful kites are flown in a recreation known as takoage, and a card recreation known as karuta can be in style. The primary Shinto shrine go to of the 12 months (hatsumode) is a crucial customized noticed by many households.

Whereas america has Dick Clark’s New Yr’s Rockin’ Eve, Japan has NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen. Kouhaku (that means purple and white) is a tune contest held on New Yr’s Eve and loved on TVs everywhere in the nation. Watching or listening to the occasion with household and pals, supporting both the purple group or the white group, is a cherished shōgatsu custom.

Are you noticing a colour theme right here? Pink and white are vital colours in Japanese tradition and you will see them in every single place you look. White is taken into account a sacred colour, and purple is assumed to scare evil spirits away. On condition that shōgatsu is crucial vacation in Japan, these colours function prominently in decorations, meals, and clothes.

Japanese New Yr actions


Clearing out the outdated

Similar to you would possibly take part in spring cleansing, Japanese folks begin the brand new 12 months recent with cleansing within the final days of the 12 months. Referred to as ōsōji (huge cleansing), your complete family comes collectively to deep clear the house. That is very true for areas of the house that will not see an everyday cleansing or dusting, like followers and home windows.

Historically, this additionally serves to purify the house to welcome the Shinto deity of the New Yr, Toshigami. It visits properties within the New Yr and is claimed to bestow well being and good luck for the 12 months forward. The entrance door can be embellished with shimekazari, that are decorations manufactured from straw ropes, in a welcome to the deity.


Greeting the dawn

Hatsuhinode (first dawn) is strictly because the identify implies: being awake simply as daybreak breaks on January 1st to welcome the New Yr. This dates again to the time lots of of years in the past when it was customary for all Japanese folks to hope to the goddess of the solar, Amaterasu, on the primary day of the 12 months.

As of late, Japanese folks greet the primary dawn at house, well-known (and tall!) landmarks, and picturesque landscapes. Mount Takao and Mount Fuji are additionally in style decisions, though mountains within the winter can have their justifiable share of challenges. Tokyo Tower has restricted occupancy, however the views from the highest on any day are breathtaking. 


Ringing the Joya-no-Kane bell

On the night of December thirty first, bells ring throughout your complete nation. The Joya-no-Kane is a ritual held at Buddhist temples the place a big bell (much like a church bell) is rung 107 instances on New Yr’s Eve after which as soon as at midnight to make 108 complete. 

This quantity is tied to the 108 worldly needs in Buddhist teachings. By ringing the bell for every one, an individual is cleansed from the issues of the earlier 12 months to start a clear new one.

Todaiji Temple in Nara and Chion’in in Kyoto are well-known places to look at Joya-no-Kane because of the sheer measurement of the bells used. The bell at Chion’in weighs over 70 tons and takes 17 monks working collectively to ring!

Visiting the Imperial Palace

Do you know Japan has a royal household? On New Yr’s Eve, the grounds of the Imperial Palace are partially open to the general public. The emperor and different members of the imperial household make appearances all through the day.

Whereas there, you may signal the greeting e book out there outdoors the Imperial Family Company constructing. As one would anticipate on the house of such an vital determine, safety is tight and there are various necessities and guidelines to comply with (akin to baggage inspections and prohibition of images tools), however it’s price it for such a singular expertise.

>>Need to be sure you keep away from social fake pas? Study extra about being well mannered in Japan.

In style meals served throughout Japanese New Yr

What’s a vacation with out meals to go along with it? Meals performs a particular position within the Japanese New Yr, every dish filled with taste and symbolism.


Toshikoshi soba

Nearly all of Japanese folks eat soba (noodles manufactured from buckwheat) on New Yr’s Eve. The truth that it’s soba is extra vital than how it’s ready, however it may be served heat or chilly. 

Auspicious meals are intently linked to Japanese tradition, and soba isn’t any exception. Buckwheat is a hardy plant, which promotes resilience. Noodles are usually lengthy, and are subsequently a logo of longevity. They break simply when bitten, simply because the troubles of the previous are damaged off as the brand new 12 months begins.


Mochi soup (ozōni)

Whereas preparation varies by area, all ozōni consists of soup and mochi (rice cake). The Kanto (Tokyo space) area favors a transparent miso soup flavored with a bonito-based inventory and the Kansai (Kyoto space) area prefers a white miso soup and a konbu-based inventory. Add-ins vary from leafy greens to mushrooms to seafood. 

Consuming ozōni could be one thing of a problem for the uninitiated as a result of heat of the soup making the already-sticky mochi much more stretchy. When you’ve got the possibility to strive it your self, make sure that to take small bites.

Mochi has lengthy been a staple of New Yr celebrations. Kagamimochi (mirror rice muffins) could be seen in New Yr’s shows throughout the nation, and watching the method of constructing mochi (mochitsuki, or “mochi-pounding”) is a time-honored New Yr’s custom.



Osechi ryōri is the centerpiece of the New Yr’s culinary traditions. It refers to all New Yr meals, together with the 2 above, however the time period significantly calls to thoughts the meals in superbly organized bentō bins. 

Relatively than one meals, it’s all kinds of meals divied up in small parts inside a two- or three-tiered lacquered field. Every dish has its personal symbolic that means, and the purple and white theme comes again in a lot of them. In style fundamental dishes embrace:

  • Pickled carrots and daikon (kōhaku namasu)
  • Simmered greens (nishime)
  • Candy rolled omelet (datemaki)
  • Konbu rolls (konbumaki)
  • Candied chestnut and candy potato mash (kuri kinton)
  • Pink and white fish muffins (kōhaku kamaboko)
  • Pounded burdock root (tataki gobō)
  • Candied sardines (tazukuri)
  • Herring roe (kazunoko)
  • Black soybeans (kuromame)

Is Japanese New Yr the identical as Lunar New Yr?

Does Japan rejoice Lunar New Yr? Sure and no. Traditionally, the Japanese New Yr coincided with the Lunar New Yr utilized in China, however that modified in 1873. The federal government on the time was present process a significant change, known as the Meiji Restoration, during which the nation was adopting some Western tradition into its personal. The New Yr starting on January 1st was one such change.

Nevertheless, some parts of the Lunar New Yr stay part of the fashionable Japanese New Yr. The Chinese language zodiac with its twelve-year cycles and animals are nonetheless used as decorations, fortune telling, and as vital non secular figures in shrines and temples. 

Whereas Japan doesn’t observe the Lunar New Yr within the type of public holidays, some areas of Japan (such because the Chinatowns in main cities) rejoice on their very own. Some Japanese folks may even repeat shōgatsu traditions for this second New Yr celebration, akin to consuming the identical auspicious meals.

How can I rejoice Japanese New Yr at house?

Don’t let location cease you from celebrating! There are a variety of the way to rejoice Japanese New Yr wherever you’re on the earth.

Japanese folks residing overseas and other people of Japanese heritage typically observe the New Yr collectively as a neighborhood. Test to see if such occasions are public and if guests are welcome. In that case, positively make the most of the chance. Benefit from the meals and actions! Nevertheless, additionally pay attention to any non secular ceremonies and be respectful if attending any.

In case you would slightly incorporate Japanese New Yr traditions into your personal celebration at house, why not strive your hand at cooking your personal osechi? Some elements could also be troublesome to seek out at your native grocery retailer, however worldwide groceries have huge choices of meals not frequently out there in your space.

It’s also possible to make and ship Japanese New Yr playing cards, or nengajō. Like vacation playing cards in america, the written greetings are temporary. The expressions within the desk above are nice decisions, paired with a particular saying for nengajō: kinga shinnen. In case you are comfy writing the phrases in Japanese characters, give {that a} shot! 

Japanese (Roman alphabet) Japanese (Japanese characters) English
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. 明けましておめでとうございます。 Pleased New Yr! 
Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu. 新年おめでとうございます。 Pleased New Yr! 
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. 今年もよろしくお願いします。 I hope you have got a Pleased New Yr.
Kinga shinnen 謹賀新年 Pleased New Yr!

>>Study extra concerning the Japanese alphabets!

Discover Japan with Rosetta Stone

Able to rejoice the New Yr? From having fun with Hatsuhinode (first dawn) to feasting on osechi, there are such a lot of traditions to look ahead to on Japanese New Yr.

There are such a lot of holidays distinctive to Japan. One of the best ways to find out about them and deepen your reference to Japanese communities world wide is to study the language! 

Each in Japan and at house, Rosetta Stone presents all of the instruments you want to really feel comfy and assured in Japanese. Relatively than rote memorization, Rosetta Stone places new phrases and phrases in context from the start, seamlessly immersing you into the language. That is supplemented with its TruAccent speech-recognition engine to excellent your pronunciation and accent.

Written by Alexa Bevan 



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