Season’s greetings and best wishes in 2020


Japanese New Year is the 1st of January. It is called GANTAN. This special period from the 1st to 3rd is  called OSHOUGATSU. It is the most important time of the year for Japanese. It is time for family reunion like Christmas or Thanksgiving.

Gantan Oshogatsu Calender

There are some special decorations for Oshougatsu period. SHIMENAWA is  twisted straw ropes and KADOMATSUbamboo poles placed in front of the entrance of the house for protection from evils.

Kadomatsu, Shimenawa

There are also essential meals to eat on New Years Day called OSECHI which includes many kinds of traditional foods packed in special boxes, also “ZOUNI” a traditional soup with MOCHI (rice cake). Each area has their own unique recipe of Zouni. They use different local soup stock and even different shape of Mochi. Some area has chicken, some only vegetable but it must include Mochi as it represents good luck through the year.

Zoni, Osechi

Many people visit shrines to make wishes for the new year during the first three or seven days of January. This event is called HATSUMOUDE which means the first visit of shrine.

Oshogatsu, Hatsumode

Some might spend all night having parties with friends and being together with families, some might try to climb up the mountains to see the first sunrise of the year.


Children get money in a special envelop. It is called OTOSHIDAMA. People send each other special cards printed a zodiac symbol (Mouse in 2020) called NENGAJO like Christmas cards.

Nengajyo, Otoshidama

Besides, watching TV and eating SOBA (noodles) is a kind of typical,  signature event on New Years Eve. Bells in temples are rung 108 times around midnight of New Years Eve and after the 108 bells the new year comes.

Soba noodles, Bells in temples

There are many events and customs to spend New Years Eve and celebrate the new years period. Japan to the wishes you all for a wonderful holiday season and for happiness in 2020 !