Japanese New Year 2009

POSTED BY DANNY CHOO On Sun 2009/01/04 06:00 JST in Japanese Culture

Already covered what we done last year on new years eve in the Japanese New Year article but wanted to keep a record of what we get up to every year.
While many Japanese take the opportunity to go overseas during the break, we done what the remaining folks typically do.

Omisoka is the last day of the year where many are running around town stocking up on grub to eat at home on the next day.

This was taken at one of my local supermarkets - wasn't here on previous new year eve's and never seen the place so packed.

The red banners say "New Years Food (stuff)" and is placed above what Japanese folks typically eat over new year.

Most folks stay indoors and eat while watching the variety programs on TV.

Picking up some Alsakan crab legs for din dins.

Taco = Octopus.

The crab we got earlier with some wonton n Saber.

At about 23:30, we head out to a local shrine where thousands of others are gathering to make their new year prayers.

T'was bery cold.

In front of many shrines, one will often see one of these thingys - not sure what they are called but they have incense burning away. One would use their hands to bring a whiff of incense smoke over themselves and make a quick prayer before entering the shrine.

A few seconds to go.

People clap and say "Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu" (Happy New Year).

Shrines are most crowded just past midnight.

No pics allowed inside where the hundreds of squashed people are tossing 5 yen coins into a container just before making a prayer.

While new years eve at the shrine is a peaceful event, much pushing and shoving goes on.

Picking up a Hamaya for the new year. Literal translation is "Arrow which destroys demons." They are placed at home to protect ones household.

Lots of people this time round but not as many as last year.

Then we walk around the rest of the shrine grounds.

Many other mini shrines where people are making prayers.

Was an extremely clear night. Stars in the heavens shone brightly. Not sure what some people are going on about when they talk about the air pollution in Tokyo. Never had a problem with the air here and my asthma has improved since moving to Tokyo from London.

On special occasions, shrines are usually filled with stalls - some which sell food and some where you can play games.

Here is a stall selling Taco Yaki - Octopus balls.

Some of the stalls are huge which allow people to be seated inside.

A woman here makes Amazake - sweet hot rice wine which is a popular beverage especially in the Winter.

Some warm Motsuni soup to keep us warm - 500 yen.

The usually bustling shopping mall is deserted at night.

Then on new years day, a load of postcards known as Nengajo arrive. These are traditional new year greeting cards which the Japanese send to each other. Paper based Negajo is still popular despite the new electronic means of sending greetings.

Going to take a look at just a few of them - this one from Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki.

Japanese folks follow the Chinese zodiac - tis the year of the cow. Me is being rat.

Nengajo from Joi Ito who has moved his residence to Dubai *sniff*.

Mozilla Japan send out Nengajo too.

From comrades at Hobby Stock. Aoi-chan creeps in from the back to see why I've been spending time with Saber.

From comrades at Nitro Plus.

Many Nengajo have lottery numbers on them - take the Nengajo to the post office and have the chance of winning some goodies - I think its stamps.

Spent as much of the new year holidays tidying up the house and office trying to optimize and practicalize space as much as possible. Here I try placing the cinema display on a glass shelf - ended up being to high.

Spent a little bit of time gaming on the PS3 too. Decorations coming down today. When do you typically remove Christmas decorations?

Most companies are back at work tomorrow - cant wait! Lots happening in January. How long was you off for?