Tag Archives: 正月

Happy New Year 2015

1 Jan

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.)

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toshikoshi-soba

31 Dec

It’s now New Year’s Eve. New Year’s is Japan’s biggest holiday.
There are many customs and decorations in Japan at this time of year.

I’ll introduce one to you:
年越しそば (Toshikoshi-soba).

toshikoshisoba

Toshi-koshi-soba are noodles that are eaten on New Year’s Eve.

It is said to bring good luck for the coming year if the last thing you ate on New Year’s Eve was this dish.

よいお年を! (Have a happy new year!)

Top 5 X-mas Illuminations in Japan

21 Nov

In Japan, Christmas isn’t a national holiday. If December 25th falls on a weekday then it’s just a normal workday in Japan.

But that said, クリスマス (X-mas) is still a big holiday in Japan. Not the biggest though…the most important holiday in Japan is 正月 (New Years).

I wrote a post before that explains a bit about Christmas in Japan…and another one that explains a bit about New Years in Japan.

To summarize though, Christmas isn’t the same in Japan as it is in Western countries.
Even though New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday, stores and streets in Japan put up X-mas decorations on November 1st (as soon as the Halloween decorations come down) and take them down on December 26th.
On December 26th in Japan, the Xmas decorations are quickly replaced with New Years decorations which stay up until around January 5th.
So Japan is decorated for the imported holiday of Christmas for fifty-six days but only about two weeks for New Years.

Basically the image of X-mas in Japan is a romantic evening for couples on クリスマス・イヴ (Christmas Eve) and a day for families with children on クリスマス (Christmas Day).

One of the popular dates spots for couples on and before X-mas Eve is to look at クリスマス・イルミネーション (X-mas lights (or, as they’re called in Japan, “Christmas illumination“)).

X-mas illumination at "Roppongi Hills" in downtown Tokyo.

There is a website that shows some of the best 「全国イルミネーション・スポット」 (Illumination Spots around Japan).

One part of that website lists 「イルミネーションおすすめスポット Best 5」 (“Top 5 Recommended Illumination Spots”).

The list is:

  • 六本木ヒルズ Artelligent Christmas 2010」 (“Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas 2010” in Tokyo, Japan)
  • 神戸ルミナリェ」 (“Kobe Luminarie” in Kobe, Japan)
  • 2010SENDAI光のページェント」 (“2010 Sendai Light Pageant” in Sendai, Japan)
  • 第30回さっぽろホワイトイルミネーション」 (“30th Sapporo White Illumination” in Sapporo, Japan)
  • OSAKA光のルネサンス2010」 (“Osaka Light Renaissance 2010” in Osaka, Japan)

Also, check out this post that I wrote with photos of the X-mas illumination at Tokyo Tower and in Roppongi, Tokyo.
And also this one that I wrote about Omotesando, Tokyo turning the X-mas illumination back on last year after eleven years of not decorating.

How is Christmas celebrated where you live? Are stores already decorated for X-mas? Is looking at 「クリスマス・イルミネーション」 (X-mas lights) popular?

Chinese New Year

25 Jan

Today is New Years Eve in China. The last day of the 子年 (“Year Of The Mouse”).

If you’re in the area, and you have a chance, I recommend going to 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) in 横浜 (Yokohama, Japan) tomorrow.

If you went there tonight, they are having New Years Eve celebrations as I write this.
But if you can go there tomorrow (Monday, January 26, 2009), that’s when the bigger celebrations will happen.

The most famous is the parade with the Chinese dragon dance.

Chinese Dragon Dance

(The Japanese version of this is the 金竜の舞い (“Golden Dragon Festival”) in Tokyo every March (Click here to read a bit about this festival on my “Festivals In Tokyo” page)):

As in Japan, New Years is China’s biggest holiday.
Actually there are a number of similarities between Chinese and Japanese New Years…although in Japan, the details are Japanese style and in China, they’re uniquely Chinese, of course.
For example, just like New Years in Japan, in China New Years is a time for getting together with family for a big traditional dinner and first visit of the year to a temple and family grave.
Also, in both countries, children receive お年玉 (gift money) in a special envelope. In Japan, the envelope is usually white with cartoon characters on it…in China, it’s almost always red (red is a lucky color in China).

Japan uses the Chinese horoscope with twelve creatures. So, January 1, 2009 began the 丑年 (“Year Of The Cow”) in Japan…and in China, the “Year Of The Cow” begins tomorrow.

Also, both countries have their own unique calendar. So, the official year in Japan is currently 平成二十一年 (Heisei 21). In China, tomorrow will begin the year 4706!

Click here to read the short bit I wrote about Chinese New Year in Yokohama Chinatown on my “Festivals In Tokyo” page.

Also, I’ve been living in Japan since 1990, so I know about Japan’s culture, holidays, etc…but I don’t know much about China. So, the parts I wrote in this post regarding China are based on what I’ve read and heard over the years.

(I also wrote about Japanese New Years, of course. Click here and here to read about it.)

明けましておめでとうございます

1 Jan

kadomatsu-1

明けましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)!

It’s now the year 平成二十一年 (Heisei 21 (2009))…丑年 (Year Of The Cow / Ox).

(Click here to read my FAQ about お正月 (Japanese New Years)).

Today, as we usually do at お正月 (New Years), we went to my inlaws’ for dinner. And, as usual, my wife’s grandmother (who’s 94 years old now!), her aunt and uncle, and her brothers and sister (and their spouses and kids) all came too. A total of twenty people! So there was lots of family and lots of great food.

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刺身 (Sashimi), 海老フライ (fried shrimp), 御節料理 (traditional Japanese New Years foods), 日本酒 (Japanese sake rice wine), beer, and wine.

I ate alot of great food…and drank alot of alcohol. 😉

Besides getting together with family and eating a traditional New Years meal…at お正月 (New Years), many Japanese people go to a shrine for New Years blessings (and traditional New Years lucky ornaments (such as Daruma), go to the Imperial Palace to hear the Emperor’s New Year message (the public is allowed inside the Palace grounds only twice a year: お正月 (New Years) and 天皇誕生日 (the Emperor’s birthday)), or go shopping (many stores have New Years sales…and 福袋 (Lucky Bag)).

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(Click here to read my other recent post about お正月 (Japanese New Years), in that post I explain some of the Japanese New Year particulars…including 福袋 (Lucky Bag)).

Photos

28 Aug

I went thru some of my photos and decided to post a bunch of them on my blog. Mostly as Slideshows.

For convenience, here’s a menu of the pictures, slideshows, and video on this post:

Turtle Butterfly Beetle
Cicada Kawasaki Halloween Kamakura Horseback Archery
Asakusa Horseback Archery Asakusa New Years Tokyo Disneyland
Park Cherry Blossom Viewing Ibaraki
Yokohama Kameido-Tenjin Harajuku / Shibuya
Ueno Tokyo Tower Tokyo Dome area
Tokyo Stn / Imperial Palace University of Tokyo Tobu Zoo
Ryogoku Bottom of this post

First are some of the small animals that have been living in our house recently.

Our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

My YouTube video of our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

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The アゲハ蝶 (Swallowtail Butterfly) (and his (cocoon)).

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Here’s a slideshow of our カブト虫 (Rhino beetle) eating gelatin.

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A slideshow of our (Cicada) emerging from it’s moult (outer shell).

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Here’s ハロウィーン (Halloween) at 川崎 (Kawasaki):

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And here’s a slideshow of the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 鎌倉 (Kamakura):

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And the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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And here’s a slideshow of New Years at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland):

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A park near our house:

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花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing):

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茨城県 (Ibaraki) is a countryside prefecture to the north of 東京都 (Tokyo):

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横浜 (Yokohama):

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亀戸天神 (Kameido-Tenjin Shrine):

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原宿 (Harajuku) and 渋谷 (Shibuya):

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These photos are from 上野 (Ueno):

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東京タワー (Tokyo Tower):

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The 東京ドーム (Tokyo Dome) area (including the amusement park and 小石川後楽園 (Koishikawa-kourakuen Japanese Gardens)). There happened to be a cosplay event on the day I took these photos:

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東京駅 (Tokyo Train Station) and the 皇居 (Imperial Palace):

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東京大学 (The University of Tokyo):

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東武動物公園 (Tobu-Doubutsukouen Zoo):

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両国 (Ryougoku), the area of Tokyo with the 国技館 (Sumo Arena):

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Please leave a comment of what you think of these photos!

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