Flowers in Japan

Ceremonies of The New Year

kadomatsuThe New Year is the most special event of the year for Japanese. During the New Year’s Days, most of Japanese people believe that God of the Year (Toshigami-sama) is descending on each home. People wished to welcome the god with pure mind and to receive power.

The main of ceremonies in a New Year are :

Hatsumode : New Year’s first visit to a shrine to pray.

Kakizome : The first calligraphy of New Year. People write auspicious words or poems with a brush, wishing the improvement in their writing skill.

Hatsuyume : The first dream on New Year’s Day. People tell their fortunate omen for the year, judging from what they dream.

Nanakusa : on the 7th day, people remove all the new years ornaments and decorative pine branches which have been put up at the gate.

Kagamimochi/osonaemochi : Mochi (rice cake) which is offered to teh god of the year.

Ko-shougatsu : on the 15th day. New year according to lunar calendar. Pople put up events such as dondo-yaki and sagicho, which are the fire festivies to burn New Year’s ornaments.

Source : Japan, How We Breathe & How our Hearts Beat; New Millenium Network Corporation.

O-Shougatsu (New Year) In Pictures (3)

Enjoy some pictures describe how Japanese people celebrate the new year (お正月 /o-shougatsu/).
Part 3/3 : nengajou (年賀状), new-year’s postcard greetings, year’s zodiac,the osonaemochi (お供え餅), and the city.

2010 zodiac

2010 zodiac

for sale : the year of lion

for sale : the year of lion

osonaemochi

osonaemochi

Postcards of NewYear's Greeting

Postcards of NewYear's Greeting

Traditional culture in a high-tech city

Traditional culture in a high-tech city

modern corner

modern corner

O-Shougatsu (New Year) In Pictures (2)

Enjoy some pictures describe how Japanese people celebrate the new year (お正月 /o-shougatsu/).
Part 2/3 : New Year’s first praying at a shrine : hatsumoude (初詣で).

hatsumode, visiting shrine in the beginning of a new year

visiting shrine in the beginning of a new year

lampion decorations

lampion decorations

Narande imasu (queuing)

Narande imasu (queuing)

hatsumode : praying at shrine on 1-3 January

hatsumode : praying at shrines on 1-3 January

A shinto believer

A shinto believer

 

letter of requests to the God

letter of requests to the God

 

O-Shougatsu (New Year) in Pictures (1)

Enjoy some pictures describe how Japanese people celebrate the new year (お正月 /o-shougatsu/).
Part 1/3 : New Year’s Decoration (お正月飾り) : shime-kazari & others.

Dried rice grass

Dried rice grass

making (1)

making (1)

making (2)

making (2)

shime-kazari

shime-kazari

pine (松 /matsu/) for sale

pine (松 /matsu/) for sale

newyear's decorations for sale at a shrine

newyear's decorations for sale at a shrine

The Two Calendars : Shinreki and Kyureki

New Year Decoration

New Year Decoration

The oldest calendar used in Japan was “lunar calendar” = “nature calendar”, and then it was switched to “lunisolar calendar” = “old calendar”, which eventually was switched to “solar calendar” = “new calendar”. “Lunar calendar” or “nature calendar”, was created by the phases of the moon, from a full moon to the next full moon as one month. It was born in China along with “lunisolar calendar”.

“Lunisolar calendar” was introduced from China during the Asuka period. It had been used for 1200 years as the basic of calendar, until a new calendar was adopted in the Meiji period. It counts from a new moon to a new moon as one months also, but because of the phases of the moon is 29.5 days on the average, if it is repeated, there occurs a time lag between 365 days of one cutting cycle of the sun and the phase of the moon. As years go by, this lag becomes wide and that’s why there was a leap month (intercalary month) every two to three years.

For example, “leap month April” was added after a regular April to make that year have 13 months to solve the problem of the time lag. On the other hand, for rice cultivating life, an accurate standard based on the four seasons brought by the sun was necessary. For this reason, what is called “Nijuhshi-Sekki, or twenty-four seasonal divisions” which divided one cutting cycle of the sun into twenty four, was used as well).

It has to be noted that the lunar calendar reflects the climate of the midstream and lower basin of the Yellow River in China, which is different from the climate, or the sense of the season, in Japan. That is why Zassetsu, Higan, 88th night, and nyubai were added to the calendar along with Nijuhshi-Sekki to match the Japanese climate. With those changes added to the original lunar calendar, a new calendar called The Tempo Calendar was adopted in the Edo period. THis is what is called the old calendar and many events have been followed according to this old calendar until now.

The calendar we are using now is called the new calendar or the solar calendar which new calendar or the solar calendar whcich replaced the old calendar in the 5th year of Meiji. Meiji government followed suit of the solar calendar=the Gregorian calendar which was widely adopted by the international society then and set December 3rd of the 5th year of Meiji (1872) in the old calendar as January 1st of the 6th year of Meiji (1873) in the solar calendar. From this moment, the new calendar moves about a month earlier than the old calendar.

Some of the events taking place now, like O-bon, still follow the old calendar even after the new calendar was adopted. If we know that calendar has a history like this to have two phases, we can fully understand the background why there is a lag of seasonal feelings when events take place. ###

:: JAPAN, How we breathe & How our Hearts beat. (New Millenium Corporation, 2008).