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TokyoTreat Japanese Snacks BlogParty Snacks for the New Year: Best Things to Try! 

Party Snacks for the New Year: Best Things to Try! 

Thalia HarrisThalia Harris
Published Time
Posted on 
January 20, 2024
Modified Time
Updated last 
January 22, 2024
Party snacks for the New Year.

It’s the New Year and time for some party snacks! From mochi to donuts, there’s so much to enjoy! Not to mention, there are many activities to enjoy in Japan! Let’s check them out and see what’s in store for you!

What kinds of food can I enjoy for the New Year?

In Japan, the New Year has many excellent traditional foods that make the celebrations unique. One fabulous dish is toshikoshi soba, these special noodles you eat on New Year’s Eve. It’s not just tasty; people believe it brings good luck and a happy, long life if you eat it.

Three red lacquer boxes of Japanese New Year's food. It goes well with many party snacks!
People eat osechi during New Year’s to avoid having to cook on their day off! Image via Shutterstock

Another thing that makes New Year’s meals exciting is osechi ryori. It’s like a big, fancy feast in colorful jubako boxes. Inside, there’s datemaki (a sweet rolled omelet), kuri kinton (candied chestnut with sweet potatoes), and some symbolic treats like salmon kombu roll, yellowtail teriyaki, and decorative fish cakes.

Picture this – edible decorations! Kagami mochi is a rice cake for the New Year. It’s like a decoration made of two round rice cakes with an orange on top. Families keep it in their homes until January 11, and then they break it and eat it. It’s an incredible tradition!

Kagami mochi surrounded by New Year's decorations.
Kagami mochi is another famous New Year’s snack! Image via Shutterstock

Now, here’s a surprise twist – donuts! Even though they’re not a traditional New Year food in Japan, many people love having them during this time. They come in unique flavors and incredible designs, making the celebrations fun. Overall, these foods aren’t just yummy; they also have meanings that make the New Year celebrations in Japan extra happy and lucky.

What fun activities can I enjoy during this time of year?

One excellent tradition is fukubukuro, which means “lucky bag” or “surprise bag.” Imagine buying a bag filled with mystery goodies, and the best part is that the stuff inside is usually worth more than what you paid for the bag! People love this, and big crowds are lining up to get these surprise-filled bags, making the celebrations super fun and full of anticipation.

A shrine during hatsumode. Some people eat party snacks after a nice visit.
Hatsumode is the first shrine visit of the New Year. Image via Shutterstock

Another cool thing people do for New Year’s in Japan is hatsumode, their first visit to a shrine in the new year. People go there to show respect and wish for a happy and healthy year. It’s like a big party with food stands and a festive vibe. And the best part is, you don’t have to go right on New Year’s Day; you can visit later to avoid the rush and still enjoy the traditions.

Then comes hatsuhinode, watching the first sunrise of the year. It’s a magical moment! People love being part of this tradition, feeling happy and grateful for the past year, and making hopeful wishes for the year ahead. These fun activities make the New Year celebrations more meaningful and unite everyone in a spirit of joy and unity.

What lucky things should I get for the new year?

Try some amazing charms to make your celebrations more interesting as the new year approaches. First, there’s hamaya – it’s  a “demon-breaking arrow.” People believe it can keep away evil spirits and bring good luck. Many folks like to put it on display at home, thinking it’s like a good luck charm for the whole year.

A bunch of charms that symbolize good luck in Japan.
Good luck charms can make the new year much easier! Image via Shutterstock

There’s also the daruma doll, which is unique in Japanese culture. You can get it at the beginning of the year and do a fantastic ritual. Fill in one eye when you make a wish or set a goal. When your wish comes true, or you achieve your goal, fill in the other eye. It’s a way of showing you made your dreams happen.

Ever heard of omikuji? It’s a written fortune you can get at shrines and temples during Japan’s New Year celebrations. If the fortune is not so great, people do a quirky thing – they tie it to a tree at the shrine, thinking it will stop the bad stuff from happening.

A bunch of omikuji.
Omikuji are fortunes from a shrine! Image via Shutterstock

And hey, why not check out traditions from around the world? Some believe wearing specific colored underwear, eating green veggies, or doing unique stuff on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. Trying out these customs adds depth and meaning to the start of your new year, making your celebrations more exciting and positive!

Why should I enjoy party snacks for the new year?

Throwing a Japanese-themed party can make your get-togethers super fun and exciting! Enjoy tasty Japanese snacks and try out excellent activities, making the experience more authentic.

A bowl of shiruko mochi soup, which is sweet like anmitsu. Even though it's not one of the popular party snacks, many people still enjoy it!
What party snacks would you like to try for the new year? Image via Shutterstock

Having Japanese snacks and activities at your party creates a relaxed and immersive vibe that celebrates Japanese culture and its tasty traditions. So, whether you’re having a chill hangout or throwing a lively bash, adding Japanese snacks and activities can make your gatherings more unique and enjoyable.

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Thalia Harris

Writer living in Tokyo who likes stories, music and video games. <3

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