About Omisoka the Japanese new year?

Ōmisoka (大晦日)—or ōtsugomori (大晦)—is a Japanese traditional celebration on the last day of the year. Traditionally, it was held on the final day of the 12th lunar month. With Japan’s switch to using the Gregorian calendar at the beginning of the Meiji era, December 31 (New Year’s Eve) is now used for the celebration.

Traditionally, important activities for the concluding year and day were completed in order to start the new year fresh. Some of these include house cleaning, repaying debts, purification (such as driving out evil spirits and bad luck), and bathing so the final hours of the year could be spent relaxing. Recently, families and friends often gather for parties, including the viewing of the over four-hour Kōhaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦, “Red/White Singing Battle”) on NHK, or more recently to watch large mixed martial arts cards. This custom has its roots in the ancient Japanese culture surrounding toshigamisama (歳神様) or toshitokusama (歳徳様), which revolved around the practice of showing reverence toward the gods of the current and upcoming years..

Generally speaking, the further north you go, the later it blooms. However, in 2021, Japan will have its earliest cherry blossom season in 1,200 years. For experts, expectations are a reflection of climate change on Earth.

About an hour before the New Year, people often gather together for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of toshikoshi soba or toshikoshi udon together—a tradition based on people’s association of eating the long noodles with “crossing over from one year to the next”, which is the meaning of toshi-koshi. While the noodles are often eaten plain, or with chopped scallions, in some localities people top them with tempura.

About Omisoka the Japanese new year

a picture of village in snow – Japan

Winter in Japan is relatively short, lasting from December until February. However, while Japan may be more commonly associated with the subtropical weather of its southern islands, Winter can see heavy snowfall and cold temperatures.

In the mountains, snowfall can be particularly plentiful, making Japan one of the world’s best destinations for skiing and snowboarding, with Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps (the location of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games) being especially popular.

Japan also celebrates Christmas and New Year at the same time as other countries although there are a few distinct differences including eating Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas dinner and a big tradition of Christmas cake. Find out how else the country marks the occasion in.  Cherry Blossom in Japan. All you need to know?