Happy new year everyone!
How did you spend your holidays? With your family? Or with your friends?
Today, I will introduce Japanese traditional and basic way to celebrate New Year’s Day called “OSHŌGATSU’ taking my family’s for example.
Although recently it is celebrated in various manners depending on each generation or region, basically OSHŌGATSU is a day to spend with family.
When the New Year’s Day is approaching in late December, in order to welcome “TOSHIGAMI” (a Shinto deity representing a new year known to be visiting each family in the New Year’s Day), first we install Japanese New Year decorations in front of a house such as “KADO-MASTU ” (so-called “New Year Pine”) and “MATSU-KAZARI” (a pine-tree ornament).
As you can see, for these celebratory decorations, a branch of pine-tree is essential as it is auspicious “YORISHIRO” in Shinto worship: Shinto deities “KAMI” are drawn to such natural plants.
In addition, on the outside of a front door, another type of decoration called “WAKAZARI” (a ringed woven straw New Year’s decoration) is hang, WAKAZARI has a variety of Shinto’s lucky items such as DAIDAI (a Japanese bitter orange), a lobster, a paper fan, etc…
Then indoors, a specially made up rice cake called “KAGAMI-MOCHI” is offered to the god, being installed at important places like “TOKONO-MA”, an alcove in a Japanese style reception room or a living room nowadays.
These customs have derived from the ancient Shinto worship as Shinto deities reside everywhere even in a bathroom or kitchen.
This is the KAGAMI-MOCHI set in our TOKONO-MA.
Since the round shape of MOCHI looks like the Shinto’s key item; “KAGAMI” (a mirror), from which its name came apparently.
KAGAMI-MOCHI consists of two different size of round MOCHIs, the smaller placed atop the large, then on the topmost, DAIDAI is decorated symbolizing the Sun. Beneath these MOCHIs, “KONBU” (dried tangle seaweed), leaves of “URAJIRO” (a kind of ferns) and of “YUZURIHA” (false daphne) are laid.
All these decorations are set up from the last week of December (right after the Christmas is over) in the year before.
Then in the 1st January, we make the first visit to the local guardian shrine called “UBUSUNA-JINJA” to thank for blessing for the preceding year and to pray for sound health for the New Year.
In addition, it is important to return old “OFUDA” and receive the new.
“OFUDA” is a type of household talisman, issued by a Shinto shrine, which is enshrined in “KAMI-DANA” (a household Shinto alter).
Coming back home after this first Shrine visit called “HATSU-MŌDE”, it’s time for “OSECHI-RYŌRI” (traditional Japanese New Year foods).
Before eating OSECHI-RYŌRI, we make a toast with “OTOSO” (New Year’s spiced sake) in order to purge noxious vapors and to wish a healthy year.
Then enjoy the foods and a soup with rice cake called “ZŌNI”.
For this special foods, we use particular chopsticks of which the envelope has the zodiac sign called “ETO” corresponding to each birth year.
While this year’s sign is sheep, mine is the Tiger, the Pig or my husband, and the Dog for my father.
For Japanese people, OSHŌGATSU is definitely important event celebrating the New Year together with family members and the God.
Well, for this year 2015 too, I will try to write original and intriguing articles about Japanese cultures and KIMONOs as many as possible, so I will be more than happy if you will enjoy it.
Finally, I wish you all the best for the new year!
KOTOSHI MO YOROSHIKU ONEGAI SHIMASU!