Oshougatsu – New Year in Japanese

Continuing with our last article on Oshougatsu the Japanese New Year, let's get to know some more rituals that the Japanese perform during the new year, in addition to many remarkable facts of the Japanese culture.

Keep in mind that I am not commenting on all the rituals and customs performed in the Japanese New Year, but only the ones I found most interesting.

Who knows, in the future I'll write about other New Year's customs of our oriental friends.

As I could not fail to mention, at the end of the article you will find tips on when to speak and how to say “Happy New Year!” In japanese.

Oshougatsu – Japanese New Year with a seven-day holiday!

That's right, January 1st, 2nd and 3rd are considered a national holiday, but many companies increase this "off" to seven days, giving their employees time to travel, perform their New Year's rituals and visit their family members. It would be so nice if in Brazil it was like that too…

The explanation for this phenomenon lies in the Japanese tradition. She says that in the first three days of the year you can't work.

If anyone works, he will scare away the god of happiness, condemning himself to an unpleasant year.

Are we going to the temple in the new year?

Oshougatsu - Hatsumoude Visit to Japanese Temple

This first visit to the temple is known as 初詣 and may continue to occur during the first three days of the new year.

According to Shinto, the sun god is the most important god of the universe.

Therefore, say your prayers during the first sunrise ( 初日の出 ) brings joy and prosperity for the entire new year.

How about giving money to children?

At the 正月, the Japanese have the habit of gifting their children, grandchildren and nephews with envelopes stuffed with money.

That's right, money. You can even imagine the joy of children waiting for New Year's gifts.

The amount of money from お年玉 varies according to the age of the children, who unceremoniously tear open the envelopes to see how much they have won.

a special visit

shinnen ippan salute the emperor

The second day of the Japanese New Year (Oshougatsu) is marked by a visit to the Imperial Palace, which is located in 東京, to greet the Japanese emperor and his family.

This is a great opportunity to wish a happy new year to the Emperor and his family.

the lion dance

Apesar de parecer, isso não tem nada a ver com a receita federal… 🙂 O獅子舞It is a dance of Chinese origin that aims to scare away evil spirits from homes and bring material prosperity to people.

Usually this dance is performed by a flutist and a lion in front of the residences.

In the end, they receive a cash “tip” offered by the homeowners.

Essa parece ser uma ótima maneira de ganhar um dinheirinho extra no final do ano. 🙂

New Year is also time to play

Hanetsuki - Japanese New Year

During Oshougatsu the Japanese New Year, girls often play shuttlecock ( 羽根突 ).

But unlike the shuttlecock game I know, which is played by hitting the shuttlecock with your hands, Japanese girls use well-decorated rackets known as 羽子板.

They say that anyone who drops the shuttlecock is penalized with scribbles on the face. On the other side, Japanese boys play with tops and fly kites.

shodo japanese calligraphy - japanese new year

Despite looking like a lot of fun, these games are becoming an increasingly uncommon custom in many Japanese cities.

Another cool game is 書道, where the Japanese do the first calligraphy of the year.

In many places, communities hold Japanese calligraphy contests and turn something simple into something really fun.

In the end, all that remains is to burn the decor…

This Japanese custom surprised me. I had no idea that they would just strip away the New Year's decor and burn it all down.

It is said that this ritual serves to attract happiness throughout the new year.

Contrary to what it may seem, this custom of burning decorations occurs in several cities in Japan.

The burning of the decoration takes place in the period known as 小正月, between the 14th and 16th of January.

How to say happy new year in Japanese

Unlike our language, where we have a single word to express our wish for a “happy new year”, Japanese have several words to say in different situations.

Before the new year, it is common to use expressions such as:

謹賀新年 – Expression generally used in letters or in any other written form.

It means "Happy New Year" and should be used before the New Year.

明けましておめでとうございます – After the 31st of December, it is common to use this expression to congratulate people on the passage of the year.

This expression can also vary for 新年明けましておめでとうございます, and has the same meaning.

よいお年を! – Also means “Happy New Year”, but in an informal way and usually used in spoken form.

いいお年をおむかえください– It's another common word to say before December 31st, and it means "Have a nice New Year's Eve".


Here we end our articles about the Japanese New Year. I hope you enjoyed.

For all…


Image credit belongs to u-suke.