New Years in Japan

The first few days of the new year are very important in Japan. Many people follow traditional customs and rituals that have been passed down from generation to generation.

New Year’s day is usually a day spent with family. Many people go to a shinto shrine for “hatsumo-de”, which is the first shrine visit of the year. People pray for good health and luck in the new year.

traditional customs:  伝統的な習慣      rituals: 儀式

passed down: 受け継がれる generation to generation: 代々


New Year's ShrinePeople lining up at a shinto shrine for “hatsumo-de. 


You can often find bonfires on the shrine grounds. These are to burn good luck talismans and charms such as “daruma” from the previous year. They are burned, and replaced with new ones for the new year.

shrine grounds:  境内   good luck talisman/charms: お守り

previous year:  前年          replaced:  取り替える


Burning DarumaBurning “Daruma” dolls at a Shinto Shrine. Both eyes filled in indicate a wish that has been fulfilled.

Dondo YakiCeremonial rake “kumade” being burned. These rakes “rake in” good luck.


At home, it is customary to display a “kadomatsu” outside the home.The “matsu” means pine, and the most common types are made with a bamboo structure and pine decorations.

the most common types: 主流、一般的な

KadomatsuMini “kadomatsu” decoration. The two kanji means “welcome spring”.

A popular dish for New Year’s is “ozoni”. A kind of soup with mochi (sticky rice cakes) in it. We enjoy ours with chicken, carrots, and daikon, among other things.

popular dish: 人気料理


OzoniHomemade “ozoni”.


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