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“):
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).
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.)
In Japan, New Years means a big traditional meal with relatives!
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:
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!)
In Tokyo, there is a subway station named 「辰巳駅」(“Tatsumi Station”).
The Japanese kanji characters that spell “Tatsumi” are the characters for “dragon” and “snake”.
So, for that reason, every twelve years … including this year … that station is a kind of unofficial New Years station.
This is because 2012 was 「辰年」(“the Year of the Dragon “) and this year (2013) is 「巳年」(“the Year of the Snake “).
So, for this New Years, Tatsumi Station changed the signs in the station to read:
辰 → 巳
(Dragon → Snake)