One grew up in the occidental tradition in central British Columbia, Canada.
When recalling the way New Year’s Eve was celebrated so many years ago now, the images of these New Years Eve parties were very boisterous and rollicking, ringing in the Happy New Year with drink, dance, song, mirth, merriment, and gaiety.
On January 1, one’s family would gather and have one’s mother’s homemade traditional New Year’s Day buffet, then back to work on the 2nd, and life would continue on in the sameness as in the previous year.
One always found a deep and stark contrast between this and the celebration in Japanese New Year tradition.
The Japanese view the turning of the year with more solemn eyes. They take this period as a time for reflection on what had transpired in the previous year, and look toward what is to come.
Traditionally, families gather in the ancestral home and watch the NHK Red and White song contest, an important feature of the Japanese New Year tradition to be certain (about kōhaku uta gassen here).
Snacking on osechi ryori (about osechi ryori here), and sipping the night away with excellent sake; this tickles the fancy.
Always included on the celebratory table (about kotatsu here), is a delicious array of raw fish and crab (delights of the sea; sashimi here). I am particularly fond of the brains of the hairy crab, an exquisite and delightful treat.
Chiba prefecture, where I have lived for the last 34 years, is also renowned for their extraordinarily delicious locally grown peanuts, and one is always delighted to taste the incredible pea-nutty peanuts over the course of the evening, as well as slowly nibbling on the above mentioned hairy crab brains and the delightful assortment of raw fish.
Continuing along with the Japanese New Year’s Eve tradition, the song contest ends at 23:45, and the government run NHK then goes to different scenes all around Japan of people lining up at Shrines and Temples for the first pray of the year.
Hatsumode is one of many Japanese New Year’s Customs, and the most important custom of the many of the “first of the year” rituals, in one’s humble opinion.
Whatever the customs and rituals are in one’s own family traditions among the rich and diverse peoples of our shared earth, all must reflect upon 2020 as the time when the planet experienced a seismic paradigm shift into an new reality.
The wish for the coming year, and into the shared future to which we all belong, is for the citizens of the world to look to the examples described in the first constitution of Japan, established in the 7th century, which codified the idealized virtues of the Japanese.
Honesty, integrity, goodwill, trust, confidence, and selflessness.
One believes all agree (unless you are a psychopath), that these are all things to aspire to, as we set examples to each other of tolerance and goodwill, noble aims to be certain.
Dearest readers, thank you so very much for coming by this last year and being a part of the Land Of The Rising Son as we continue the journey together into the future of Japan, one’s society, and our world.
PS: Please come again next week as one continues the exploration of kata and how kata continues to influence the Japanese and our society. If you missed the beginning of kata one can discover it here.