Today is the Oshogatsu, the new year holiday. It was so beautiful day!! We say to each other “Akemashite Omedeto” to express congratulations on New Year.
Family members get together
The New Year Holiday is special time for Japanese. Family members get together and enjoy their time while getting relaxed at home. During the first tree days, schools and many businesses close and people who live far away return to celebrate the New Year with family and relatives.
On New Year’s Day, we drink Otoso (Japanese Sake) and eat traditional dishes such as Osechi Ryori. And we visit shrines for Hatsumode which means first visit of the year to pray for a good year.
We enjoy special New Year’s food on these holidays. The most popular New Year’s food is Osechi, which is a combination of foods beautifully arranged in lacquer boxes. But for Japanese housewife, Osechi is time-consuming to make. I prepared for this one since the a last few days of last year. Of course, regarding other dishes like Sushi, I ordered the restaurant.
During this time, many husbands enjoy drinking with their father. My husband also just got drunk and slept. Sons played video game with their cousins. Just housewives are busy from the first day of the year. It is so unfair!
As explained before, Hatsumode is visiting shrine (or temple) of local god in early time of the New Year to pray for health and happiness of that year. Nowadays many people visit famous shrine which is not nearby, but my family usually visit the local shrine, Setagaya Hachimangu, after having dishes.
Purify at the watering place
First of all, we washed our hands at the watering place of the shrine to purify ourselves.
Return the old Omamori
We returned the old Omamori at the specific place in the shrine. We usually get new one for New Year and bring back old one to the shrine where it was acquired, because they absorb all the bad things and may worn out.
Pray for health and happiness
We threw a coin gently into the Saisen-Bako, and prayed family’s health and happiness. In particular, I prayed the success of my elder son’s test for junior high school in February.
Buy new Omamori
At the selling booth, we bought new Omamori for each family member. Omamori is piece of wood or paper on which wishes like safety, easy birth and passing the test are inscribed and which is kept in small bag. We believe that we can get the blessing of the god by keeping it.
And finally, we drank Amazake. Amazake is a white, sweet and mild Sake made from fermentation of a mixture of rice mold and porridge. It is said to expel evil by drinking it. Hot Amazake is served at Shinto shrines at the New Year and during festivals. We put a little bit ginger in it. It warmed us up!