New Years: How They Celebrate in Japan, and How You Can Celebrate Here

January 1 is not far away. And while we in the United States plan for a ball drop in New York City and plenty of confetti, the Japanese are looking forward to more family-oriented rituals, designed to usher in good fortune for the new year.

According to Japan Today, did you know that Japanese New Year’s traditions include…

  1. … a thorough cleaning? Osoji is the year-end cleaning that takes place in homes and offices to purify the spaces and welcome Toshigami-sama, or the god of the coming New Year.
  2. Kadomatsu? These are decorations made from three cut bamboo sticks, which represent heaven, earth and humanity, and pine branches that are installed over the entrances of homes. The kadomatsu are believed to attract the gods, which live in the pine until Jan. 7, at which time the branches are burned to release the gods back into their realm.
  3. … soba noodles? Japanese families eat toshikoshi soba around midnight to ward off evil spirits before New Year arrives.
  4. … ringing bells exactly 108 times? Joya no Kane, or purification bells, are rung 108 times, which corresponds to the number of evil desires that people suffer from, according to Buddhist beliefs.
  5. …greeting cards – both hand-made and digital? Nengajo are big business during the New Year in Japan, serving much the same purpose as holiday cards do in the U.S. Younger people design and email their cards, but the hand-written ones sport lottery numbers on them.
2. Kadomatsu are traditional New Year’s decorations in Japan. This one also features chrysanthemums, which signify perfection, wealth, and truth.

In Palm Beach County, you can ring in 2016 with Japanese style at Oshogatsu, the traditional New Year’s festival, which welcomes everyone to The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens on January 10. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.


mochitsuki pic
Mochitsuki – or rice pounding – is the traditional way of making mochi rice paste, a traditional New Year’s food.
Daruma are a symbol of good luck in the coming year. At Oshogatsu, write your New Year’s wish on our DIY Daruma wall!
Lots of family fun awaits at Oshogatsu!
Shishimai is the traditional Japanese Lion Dance, performed during Oshogatsu.

In 2016, the Year of the Monkey, The Morikami will celebrate the 38th Oshogatsu with the dynamic performances of Fushu Daiko’s taiko drumming, musical performances by Friends of Koto and Shakuhachi artist Marco Lienhard, our signature rice-pounding ceremony to make mocha and the playful shishimai lion dance.

Ticket sales began on Dec. 11, 2015. General admission is $12 online; $15 at the gate (ages 11+); children are $6 online and $10 at the gate (ages 4-10). Tickets are non-refundable. Oshogatsu is a rain or shine event. Learn more at

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