Celebrating Shōgatsu: The Ultimate Guide to Japanese New Year


The pleasure of commemorating vacations is universal. Wherever you enter the world and no matter what season, you will discover individuals excitedly expecting the next wedding day in their neighborhood.

For New Year’s, every nation commemorates with their own customs. In the United States, Americans collect in Times Square to view the ball drop and light fireworks in the house. Brazilians struck the beach worn white. In Denmark, individuals are jumping into the New Year by leaping off their chairs.

Japan is no exception! On shōgatsu, consuming tasty food, checking out temples and shrines, and seeing the sun increase on a brand-new year are all amongst the lots of customs Japan passionately observes. Even if you can’t take a trip there yourself, Japanese neighborhoods any place you live commemorate with their customs closer to home.

Learning the Japanese language is likewise an excellent opportunity to deepen your understanding and gratitude of these customs. Rosetta Stone uses available lessons, finding out tools, and more to immerse yourself in 25 languages, consisting of Japanese.

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When is Japanese New Year?

The Japanese New Year follows the Gregorian calendar like the majority of the world and starts on January 1st, with December 31st being New Year’s Eve. The celebrations extend to January 3rd in Japan and the nation observes all 3 days as public vacations.

These 3 days are described as sanganichi Japanese households collect, go to liked ones, and enjoy their day of rests over the whole period of the New Year events.

How do you state “Happy New Year” in Japanese?

The expression you utilize depends upon which day you are wanting another individual Happy New Year. Due to the fact that the terms hold various cultural significances before and after the New Year, this is. If you are revealing your well wants in the last days of the year, the table listed below programs examples of how to state Happy New Year in Japanese.

Japanese Japanese (Japanese characters) English
Kotoshi mo osewa ni narimashita. 今年もお世話になりました 。 Thank you for your assistance once again this year.
Yoi otoshi wo osugoshi kudasai. 良いお年をお過ごし下さい 。 I hope you have a Happy New Year.

These might be utilized when welcoming colleagues or next-door neighbors, particularly at a bōnenkai ( forget the year celebration). The very first expression in specific is essential, as it reveals thankfulness for your relationship with the other individual. It sounds odd to the ears of a native English speaker, however it is however an essential cultural belief.

Once the brand-new year starts, the expressions alter.

Japanese (Roman alphabet) Japanese (Japanese characters) English
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. あけましておめでとうございます 。 Happy New Year!
Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu. 新年おめでとうございます 。 Happy New Year!
Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. 今年もよろしくお願いします 。 I hope you have a Happy New Year.

If you just keep in mind one expression for the brand-new year, keep in mind of the very first one! It is the most appropriate and flexible for whomever you are talking with. The 3rd expression is a reflection of the very first expression in the previous table: you are hoping your relationship will continue to be excellent.

In other contexts, you might see oshōgatsu rather of shōgatsu They have the exact same significance, however the distinction refers politeness. The prefix “ o-” represents a level of regard to the word and makes the speaker noise a little more official. In dining establishments, this is often included to the word sushi to make osushi Both are appropriate, however lean towards

>>Interested in other words that don’t translate well to English? Check out these unique expressions.



if you are attempting to be additional courteous. Japanese New Year customs New Year’s has plenty of occasions both enjoyable and ritualistic alike. Kids get otoshidama ( presents of cash in white and red envelopes) from adult relative. Vibrant kites are flown in a video game called takoage, and a card video game called karuta is likewise popular. The very first Shinto shrine go to of the year (

hatsumode) is an essential custom-made observed by lots of households. While the United States has Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, Japan has NHK Kouhaku Uta Gassen


(suggesting white and red) is a tune contest hung on New Year’s Eve and delighted in on TVs all over the nation. Listening or seeing to the occasion with friends and family, supporting either the white group or the red group, is a treasured shōgatsu custom.


Are you seeing a color style here? Red and white are necessary colors in Japanese culture and you will discover them all over you look. White is thought about a spiritual color, and red is believed to frighten fiends away. Considered that shōgatsu is the most crucial vacation in Japan, these colors include plainly in designs, food, and clothes.

Japanese New Year activities Clearing out the old Just like you may take part in spring cleansing, Japanese individuals begin the brand-new year fresh with cleansing in the last days of the year. Called

ōsōji( huge cleansing), the whole family comes together to deep tidy the home. This is particularly real for locations of the home that might not see a routine cleansing or cleaning, like windows and fans. Traditionally, this likewise serves to cleanse the home to invite the Shinto divine being of the New Year, Toshigami. It checks out homes in the New Year and is stated to bestow health and all the best for the year ahead. The front door is likewise embellished with



, which are designs made from straw ropes, in a welcome to the divine being. Greeting the daybreak



( very first daybreak) is precisely as the name suggests: being awake simply as dawn breaks on January 1st to invite the New Year. This goes back to the time centuries ago when it was popular for all Japanese individuals to hope to the goddess of the sun, Amaterasu, on the very first day of the year.

These days, Japanese individuals welcome the very first daybreak in the house, well-known (and high!) landmarks, and attractive landscapes. Mount Takao and Mount Fuji are likewise popular options, although mountains in the winter season can have their reasonable share of difficulties. Tokyo Tower has actually restricted tenancy, however the views from the top on any day are awesome.

Ringing the Joya-no-Kane bell

On the night of December 31st, bells call throughout the whole nation. The Joya-no-Kane is a routine held at Buddhist temples where a big bell (comparable to a church bell) is called 107 times on New Year’s Eve and after that as soon as at midnight to make 108 overall.

This number is connected to the 108 worldly desires in Buddhist mentors. By calling the bell for each one, an individual is cleaned from the issues of the previous year to start a tidy brand-new one.

Todaiji Temple in Nara and Chion’ in in Kyoto are well-known areas to view Joya-no-Kane thanks to the large size of the bells utilized. The bell at Chion’ in weighs over 70 loads and takes 17 monks collaborating to call!

Visiting the Imperial Palace

>>Want to make sure you avoid social faux pas? Learn more about being polite in Japan.

Did you understand Japan has a royal household? On New Year’s Eve, the premises of the Imperial Palace are partly open up to the general public. The emperor and other members of the royal household emerge throughout the day.

While there, you can sign the welcoming book offered outside the Imperial Household Agency structure. As one would anticipate at the home of such an essential figure, security is tight and there are lots of requirements and guidelines to follow (such as luggage assessments and restriction of photography devices), however it deserves it for such a distinct experience.


Popular foods served throughout Japanese New Year

What is a vacation without food to opt for it? Food plays an unique function in the Japanese New Year, each meal loaded with taste and meaning. Toshikoshi soba The bulk of Japanese individuals consume



( noodles made from buckwheat) on New Year’s Eve. The truth that it is soba is more crucial than how it is prepared, however it can be served cold or warm.

Auspicious foods are carefully connected to Japanese culture, and soba is no exception. Buckwheat is a sturdy plant, which promotes strength. Noodles are usually long, and are for that reason a sign of durability. They break quickly when bitten, simply as the problems of the past are broken off as the brand-new year starts. Mochi soup (ozōni) While preparation differs by area, all ozōni includes soup and


(rice cake). The Kanto (Tokyo location) area prefers a clear miso soup seasoned with a bonito-based stock and the Kansai (Kyoto location) area chooses a white miso soup and a konbu-based stock. Add-ins vary from leafy veggies to mushrooms to seafood. Eating ozōni can be something of an obstacle for the inexperienced due to the heat of the soup making the already-sticky mochi a lot more elastic. Make sure to take little bites if you have the opportunity to attempt it yourself. Mochi has actually long been a staple of New Year events. Kagamimochi ( mirror rice cakes) can be seen in New Year’s screens throughout the nation, and seeing the procedure of making mochi (



, or “mochi-pounding”) is a time-honored New Year’s custom. Osechi Osechi ryōri is the focal point of the New Year’s cooking customs. It describes all New Year foods, consisting of the 2 above, however the term especially recollects the food in perfectly organized


  • boxes. Rather than one food, it is a wide range of foods divied up in little parts within a 2- or three-tiered lacquered box. Each meal has its own symbolic significance, and the white and red style returns in a number of them. Popular main courses consist of: Pickled carrots and daikon (
  • kōhaku namasu) Simmered veggies (
  • nishime) Sweet rolled omelet (
  • datemaki) Konbu rolls (
  • konbumaki) Candied chestnut and sweet potato mash (
  • kuri kinton) Red and white fish cakes (
  • kōhaku kamaboko) Pounded burdock root (
  • tataki gobō) Candied sardines (
  • tazukuri) Herring roe (
  • kazunoko) Black soybeans (



Is Japanese New Year the like Lunar New Year?

Does Japan commemorate Lunar New Year? Yes and no. Historically, the Japanese New Year accompanied the Lunar New Year utilized in China, however that altered in 1873. The federal government at the time was going through a significant modification, called the Meiji Restoration, in which the nation was embracing some Western culture into its own. The New Year starting on January 1st was one such modification.

However, some aspects of the Lunar New Year stay a part of the modern-day Japanese New Year. The Chinese zodiac with its twelve-year cycles and animals are still utilized as designs, fortune informing, and as crucial spiritual figures in shrines and temples.

While Japan does not observe the Lunar New Year in the type of public vacations, some locations of Japan (such as the Chinatowns in significant cities) commemorate by themselves. Some Japanese individuals will likewise duplicate shōgatsu customs for this 2nd New Year event, such as consuming the exact same advantageous foods.

How can I commemorate Japanese New Year in the house?

Don’t let area stop you from commemorating! There are a variety of methods to commemorate Japanese New Year any place you remain in the world.osechi Japanese individuals living abroad and individuals of Japanese heritage frequently observe the New Year together as a neighborhood. Inspect to see if such occasions are public and if visitors are welcome. Absolutely take benefit of the chance if so. Take pleasure in the food and activities! Likewise be conscious of any spiritual events and be considerate if going to any.

If you would rather integrate Japanese New Year customs into your own event in the house, why not attempt your hand at cooking your own ? Some active ingredients might be tough to discover at your regional supermarket, however worldwide groceries have large choices of foods sporadically offered in your location. You can likewise make and send out Japanese New Year cards, or nengajō Like vacation cards in the United States, the composed greetings are quick. The expressions in the table above are fantastic options, coupled with an unique stating for nengajō: kinga shinnen

Offer that a shot if you are comfy composing the words in Japanese characters! Japanese (Roman alphabet)
Japanese (Japanese characters) English Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu.
明けましておめでとうございます 。 Happy New Year! Shinnen omedetou gozaimasu.
新年おめでとうございます 。 Happy New Year! Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu.
今年もよろしくお願いします 。 I hope you have a Happy New Year. Kinga shinnen

>>Learn more about the Japanese alphabets!


Happy New Year! Explore Japan with Rosetta Stone Ready to commemorate the New Year? From delighting in Hatsuhinode( very first daybreak) to delighting in


, there are many customs to eagerly anticipate on Japanese New Year.immersing There are many vacations distinct to Japan. The very best method to find out about them and deepen your connection with Japanese neighborhoods all over the world is to find out the language! TruAccent speech-recognition engine Both in Japan and in the house, Rosetta Stone uses all the tools you require to feel positive and comfy in Japanese. Instead of rote memorization, Rosetta Stone puts brand-new words and expressions in context from the start, effortlessly

you into the language. This is supplemented with its

to best your pronunciation and accent.(*) Written by Alexa Bevan (*)


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