Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years in Japan (Osho-gatsu)

During the last week of classes before winter vacation, one assignment for the first year students was explaining Japanese New year traditions in a paragraph. Here are some things the students taught me.

Some things people do on New Year's Eve:
Clean the whole house and decorate with "simekazari". On the front door, people put "okazari" which is like a straw decoration.

Eat osechi which are traditional foods which all have meanings when you eat them.There's a box called "jubako" which has Koromame, or sweetened black soybeans symbolizing working very hard. Kurikinton is a chestnut which symbolizes financial fortune. Kobumaki is said to give happiness.

Childen are given money by parents and other relatives. This money is called otoshidama. The cute little envelopes that you put the money in are called Pochi-bukuro.
There are these decorations with two mochis stacked on top of each other with a mikan (tangerine) on top. On New Years day, a soup with radish is made with it called Ozouni. Eating mochi is said to give a long life. Also, eating soba is very popular for New Years. I like soba.
There is a game they play called "Hogoita" which is like badmitton, and the loser has to paint their face.
They send special happy new year postcards, nenga-jo, to all their friends.
"Akemashite omedeto" means happy new year or congratulations to the opening of the year.
There are special TV shows on new years eve. One popular one is called Kouhaku Utagassen which is like American Idol in the sense that it is a singing contest show.
2007 is the year of the boar, or eto.
Watch the first sunrise of the year, and say "goraiko banzai" which means congratulations on the first sunrise.

New Year's Day
Many people go to a shrine and make wishes to have a happy year. Some things they do at the shrine are throw coins into the box (osaisen), clap, pray, ring a bell. They pick a fortune called an omikuji.

There is a little marathon run that some people participate in.

Funny how much i learn from teaching, ay?

No comments:

Post a Comment