Before I started my journey to Japan, of course one question came into my mind: How will I spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Japan, what is expecting me?
Now I can say it was an absolutely amazing experience.
In December I could visit a typical German Christmas Market, too. Everywhere was the Santa Claus, angels and many Christmas trees, but most of them incredibly shrill and very colorful. But Japan’s roads have beautiful Christmas lights and illuminations. They are really worth to see and unique.
Another unique feature is the so-called end of the year parties (Jap. Bounenkai).
Friends and colleagues traditionally come together to forget the efforts of the old year and tackling the challenges for the next year with renewed vigor.
Christmas is the celebration of love, especially for lovecouples. Or it is, as I did, celebrated in a nice atmosphere with the family while eating a Kurisumasu keeki. This comes from englishlanguage and is just like the Christmas greeting Meri Kurisumasu and now you realize that Christmas here is very oriented to the west.
Then the Christmas decoration is replaced by the more important New Year decoration (Shimekazari), outlining the major New Year’s cleaning (Oosouji).
On New Years Eve (Omisoka) we ate the traditional noodles (Toshikoshisoba), they bring hope for a long life. Meanwhile watching the traditional music show of the television station NHK.
Around 10 p.m. we heared the first gong of 108 strokes of the Buddhist temples. Also I could ring the bell and make a wish.
At Shinto Shrine the bell was rung again and I also pulled a lucky ticket.
The New Year’s breakfast is reintroduced with a special meal. Osechi-ryouri (a beautiful Lackbox with delicacies) and Ozouni, a white soup with Omochi, vegetables and miso paste.
And I have to mention all the New Year’s cards that arrived on that day. They contain congratulations for the new year and inform at the same time about the old one. So we were busy all day to look at the countless cards and match addresses.
In this case I wish you also a happy and healthy yaer 2015! I am very thankful that I was the first of the trainees of the Grünwald Foundation who was able to experience this unique celebrations.