New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan. There are many traditions…one of which is sending 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) to friends and relatives. A bit like Christmas cards in western countries.
One the back of “official” Japanese New Years postcards (which are the only kind that anyone sends) is a six-digit serial number.
Every year on January 15th, the Japanese post office chooses random numbers as winners in the お年玉 (New Years postcard lottery).
People who have postcards with winning numbers win nice prizes.
(Click here to read a post I’ve written about this before.)
Here are the winning numbers for the 2016 New Years postcard lottery:
2016 New Years postcard lottery winning numbers
★ First place – cards with the number 667085 – the prize is ¥100,000 (approx. US$1,000).
★ Second place – cards with the last four digits of the number being 9648 – the prize is one of several wonderful things such as an onsen (hot spring) stay, a TV, a computer, Nintendo DS, etc.
★ Third place – cards with the last two digits of the number being either 69 or 90 – the prize is commemorative “Year of the Monkey” postage stamps.
Every year in January there are 出初式 (Japanese New Years Firefighters Ceremonies) around Japan.
Every January 6th, the 「東京消防出初式」 (“Tokyo Fire Department’s New Year Ceremony“) is held. Today is 2016 January 5th, so it will be held tomorrow.
I have been to this (and a few other Japanese Firefighter Ceremonies). Click here to see my post (with photos) about it.
The 「横浜消防出初式」 (“Yokohama Fire Department’s New Year Ceremony“) is on the second Sunday of January every year…so it will be held on January 10th this year.
If you’re unable to attend one of those festivals this month, there is a similar one in the Asakusa area of Tokyo in May every year.
It’s not as grand as the New Year’s ceremonies. And it’s actually a memorial ceremony for fallen firefighters.
It’s called the 江戸消防慰霊祭 (Edo Firefighters Memorial Ceremony).
I watched this ceremony a couple times. Click here to see photos I took of it almost six years ago. (There are also photos of the Tokyo Sky Tree under construction in that post because it’s near where the ceremony is held, and it was being being at that time).
Here are some videos of last year’s 「横浜消防出初式」 (“Yokohama Fire Department’s New Year Ceremony“):
Today is December 15th, the day that the Kanji of the Year is chosen in Japan.
The JapanToday website wrote:
The kanji character 安 “an,” meaning peace or safety, has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2015.
The character refers to the controversial security legislation that the government passed in the summer.
The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, a Kyoto-based organization that promotes kanji, conducts the survey nationwide every year. The foundation said 129,647 submissions were received this year, with 安 being the most popular, garnering 5,632 votes.
In an event held on Tuesday, Seihan Mori,the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character with a large calligraphy brush, whose bristles were the size of a bowling pin, on a huge piece of “washi” (Japanese paper).
The second most popular character was 爆, “baku” (explosion), a reference to “bakugai,” meaning explosive buying (shopping sprees) by Chinese tourists visiting Japan.
The third most popular kanji was 戦, meaning war, referring to the many conflicts going on in the Middle East and the war on terror.
I had almost forgotten about the annual 年賀状お年玉 (New Years Postcard Lottery).
(Click here to read an earlier post I’ve written about it).
What reminded me of it was the fact that today is 「旧正月」 (Chinese New Years).
On January 19th, 2015, the winning numbers were announced.
Check your postcards, if you have a winning number, you have until July 21st (2015) to bring winning cards to a post office (in Japan) to claim your prize.
The winning numbers and prizes for this year are:
||Number of winners
|1st（last five digits）
||1 in 100,000
|2nd（last four digits）
||Various local goods
||1 in 10,000
|3rd（last two digits）
||Commemorative postage stamps
||2 in 100 (1 in 50)
||27 or 30
Click here to visit the Japan Post “New Years Postcard Lottery” page (in Japanese).
Every year on January 6th the Tokyo Fire Department has their annual 「消防出初式」 (“Firefighters New Year Drill & Review“).
I watched this impressive show five years ago.
(My post and photos, here).
And, earlier that year, I saw the annual 「消防慰霊祭」 (“Firefighters Memorial Service“), which is impressive too (Click here to see my post and photos about that festival).
Tomorrow is January 6th, so the 「2015 東京消防出初式」 (“2015 Tokyo Firefighters New Year Drill & Review“) will be held tomorrow.
Flyer for the “2015 Tokyo Firefighters New Year Drill & Review” (2015 東京消防出初式).
If you want info about this festival (location, etc), feel free to contact me.
It’s now midnight on New Years Day 2015.
Happy New Year!
In Japan, New Years is the biggest holiday. There are many traditions, customs, decoration and a special meal with family.
2014 was the “Year of the Horse”…but it’s now the beginning of 2015 “the Year of the Sheep“.
2014 “Year of the Horse” passing the baton to 2015 “Year of the Sheep”
明けましておめでとうございます！ (“Happy New Year!“)
How did you celebrate the New Year?
(The above image is from プロ年賀状 (“Pro New Years Postcards”) website.)
Every year in late January the Japan Post Office announces the winning numbers of the 年賀ハガキお年玉 (New Years Postcard lottery).
I’ve written blog posts about it. Click here to read one that explains about it.
There used to be nine winning number combinations years ago…then it was reduced to seven winning number combinations. This year, there are only four winning combinations.
First place: if you have a postcard with the last five digits being 97085, you’ve won ¥10,000.
Second place: if the last four digits are 2344, you win your choice from a selection of various prizes. Mainly foods, drinks and kitchen supplies.
Third place: if the last two digits on any of your postcards are either 72 or 74, you win a sheet of two postage stamps with this year’s Chinese horoscope character (the horse).
“Year of the Horse” stamps for 2014.
Every year I only win the postage stamps, if anything at all. Later today I’m going to check my postcards…hopefully I’ll have a first-place winner this year!
How about you? Did you win?