DVIDS – News – The New Year in Japan is ringing


Happy New Year, or akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! We officially rang in 2022 here at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), and with it come new opportunities, new experiences and new ways to learn about and embrace Japan and its unique culture.

Speaking of “ringing” New Years, maybe while you were out last weekend, you heard the distinct sound of bells ringing 108 times, to be exact. This procession is called the “Joya no kane” and is performed by Buddhist temples across the country exactly at the stroke of midnight.

It is said in the Buddhist tradition that the reason people suffer from sadness is due to the presence of Bonnou, or desires, of which we have 108. As the priests ring the bells, the Bonnou of the past year are suppressed. , leaving room for a new and hopefully happy start to the New Year.

Immediately after the Joya no kane is usually the “Hatsuhinode” or first sunrise. If you’ve found yourself in a particularly great place and time to watch the sun rise for the first time in 2022, you’ve already experienced it! As the “first” of all is used to express the idea of ​​”starting over again”, the first sunrise brings a sense of renewal and hope for the year to come.

So if you were able to attend both Hatsuhinode and Joya no kane, you are already off to a good start, but there are a few more important traditions in Japan that complement Ganjitsu, or New Years Day.

A popular practice still supported by many families in Japan is to celebrate New Years in the morning and evening, with a multi-course meal named O-sechi. This finely prepared platter is often prepared days in advance. It includes colorful foods, each with their own meaning, like red and white Kohaku Namasu, or pickled radishes and carrots, which bring good omens.

As you go around the plate, eating each item and racking up your good fortune for the New Year, you might stumble upon something that looks like a snowman with an orange on its head. It is Kagami mochi, or a chewy rice cake used for decoration during New Years, but also in a variety of breads, candies, and other cultural uses in Japan.

While some choose to prepare and make the mochi themselves through a careful method of stretching, folding and pounding, most families simply choose to buy them in their local market and grill or bake them. cook for a snack. Pick up some at your nearest grocery store and try cooking them, then coating them in Kinako (toasted soy flour) for a sweet variation.

Now that we’ve covered the New Year’s celebration from start to mealtime, there is only one important event left to mention: Hatsumode, or the first shrine visit of the year. So far, all of our important cultural practices have been listed in chronological order, but Hatsumode is special in that it can be practiced almost any time during the first week of January.

Hatsumode is a crucial practice when celebrating New Years in Japan, and rightly so, it is often thought to set the mood for your year. Visitors to their local shrine will pray for wealth and happiness, future academic success, or even just wish good luck – whatever the case offers a chance for a fresh start, the embodiment of new year in Japan.

While the atmosphere for Hatsumode is lively, often with food vendors and lucky charms stalls galore, there are also crowds that rival even the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing. The first hours and the day after the clock strikes midnight are often the busiest for visitors to the shrine, so if you’re looking to participate in next year’s Hatsumode, take a moment to marvel at the large number of people. looking for a good start to their year.

To conclude, Japan is a culture rich in Buddhist practices and values, and New Year’s celebrations and traditions are a clear example of this. If you weren’t able to participate in the New Years celebrations while you were here at CFAY, try your hand at any of the above traditions and ring next year the Japanese way!

Date taken: 06/01/2022
Date posted: 06/01/2022 19:28
Story ID: 412568

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