Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
The hustle and bustle of Shogatsu (正月 / New Year’s Day) actually started on the last few days of December. Most Japanese would busy themselves with their holiday shopping lists, as well as diligently carried out the Osoji (お掃除 / year-end spring cleaning). For us, it took a few days just to tidy and dust all nooks and crannies of the house. By New Year’s Eve, or otherwise known as Omisoka (大晦日), the house is clean and orderly, with Oshogatsu Kazari (お正月飾り/ New Year’s Decorations) in place – all set to usher in the new year.
The relatives of my husband love to meet, feast and be high in spirit. :*) We usually have big family gatherings on major festivals or annual events. Omisoka is no exception. Hence, after my MIL had prepared an array of symbolic foods for Osechi Ryori (お節料理 / JNY traditional dishes), we helped her with tonight’s dinner.
Few hours after the scrumptious dinner, it was family tradition to have Toshikoshi Soba (年越しそば / New Year’s Eve Buckwheat Noodles) for supper. Generally, Japanese will pray for one’s family to be bless with good health, well-being and longevity as they slurp the long thin noodles. Additionally, “Toshikoshi” literally means year-crossing. Hence, one will carry his/her previous year’s good fortunes into the new year.
I did an Etegami (Picture Postcard) for Omisoka.
Message: Our wish – to enjoy long life and
continue to be blessed with family fortunes.
There is always a great line up of TV programs, all competing for viewers’ attention on New Year’s Eve. However, NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen (紅白歌合戦 / Red White Song Battle) never fails to be the most popular. The year’s most favorite music artists will group together according to gender (i.e. female singers/lead vocals form the Red team and the males form the White team), to compete from 7.30pm to 11.45pm.
Then, the following TV broadcast will be Yuku-toshi, Kuru-toshi (Old Year Out, New Year In). Anyone who wish to hear Joya no Kane (除夜の鐘 / New Year’s Eve Bells), which is another highlight of Omisoka, can hear the bell strikes at the stroke of midnight in the 45-mins program. Traditionally, the bells of Buddhist temples will start ringing slightly before midnight and continue into the wee hours of New Year’s Day. They will sound for 108 times, which symbolizes the purification of soul by casting away 108 earthly desires.
As for us, every year we will wait for Kohaku song battle to end. Then, we will stroll to the neighborhood shrine for our Hatsumode (初詣 First shrine/temple visit of the year) and enjoy their free hot Amazake (甘酒 / sweet drink made from fermented rice).