Happy New Year (Well, almost)!
Hey TokyoTreat fam!
The year has just flown by and it's almost time for us to start celebrating the New Year or Oshōgatsu(お正月) here in Japan! New Years is an important holiday in most countries around the world, but in Japan it's probably the most important one of the year... and the next! That's why we knew it was important to kick off the New Year in style and help you to rest and relax your way into the new decade. That's why we came up with our Cozy Winter's Night with plenty of comfort food to help you see in the New Year (Of the Mouse to be exact!). But first, let us tell you a little bit about some New Years traditions we'll be celebrating.
Hatsumode - The First Visit to the Shrine/Temple of the year
One of the first things Japanese people will look to do is to visit their favorite (or most famous) local shrine or temple. This visit is called Hatsumode which means the first shrine/temple of the year. Some people are brave enough to visit temples at midnight where bells are rung 108 times in a ritual known as Joya no Kane( 除夜の鐘 ) to ward off the 108 worldly sins in Buddhist belief. If you go early enough, you can be one of those 108 who get to ring the bell, depending on the size and popularity of the temple!
Osechi-ryōri (お節料理) New Years Food
Another tradition most participate in is buying and eating Osechi-ryōri, a tradition saying to stem back to the Heian period where it was forbidden to cook food using your stove within the first 3 days of the New Year. These boxes became popular as a way to not only have food ready to eat during these days, but the individual foods have intricate meanings that are meant to be different forms of luck and fortunes. Check out this info if you want to know more, since the list is pretty long!
Daruma might be something that you recognize, especially if you keep track of our other social media! Daruma are round, hollow dolls that are a symbol of perseverance and good luck associated with goal setting... kind of like a decoration representing your New Year's resolution. Once bought, you fill in one eye once you've decided your goal and only fill in the other once it has been fulfilled. That's motivation for you!
New Year's Decorations
There are many examples of New Year Decorations that you'll likely see in Japan around New Years. One of the most recognizable is Kadomatsu or “pine gates” which are displayed in pairs at the front of houses and businesses from January 1st to the 7th. They usually consist of three bamboo poles with pine tree branches tied to them with straw rope. They may also include other foliage and/or flowers. The bamboo is representative of growth and strength, while the pine is a symbol of longevity. Would you decorate your house with one?
This Months Snack Box
We hope you're excited about this month's Cozy Winter's Night box theme! Let us know what you're hoping will be featured in the box in the comments below!
Want your photo to be featured in our monthly booklet or on social media? Tag us on social media at #tokyotreat and maybe you'll see your photo in our next booklet!
As usual we will also have an awesome photo contest with unique Japanese prizes and a FREE snack box so stay tuned for that!
As a big thank you to our subscribers we always give away a big Lucky Treat prize which is filled with over $500 worth of goodies! If you want a chance to win, make sure to join the fam!