New year in Japan is arguably the most important holiday of the year, and as such is filled with traditions. There is the traditional osetchi-ryōji, many different kinds of new year’s food served in stackable boxes. There is the traditional hatsumōde, the year’s first visit to a shrine or temple. Otoshidama, new year’s money, is giving to children, and families gather, often the only time of the year everyone can meet. New year’s cards are written and and gifts are given. And the stores are loading up with fukubukuro, a kind of more or less discounted secret bag that you are not to supposed to know the contents of before buying it.
I have come to love the Japanese new year, the traditions, the food, the atmosphere. In an otherwise too busy world, it is like time suddenly stops. There is a calm feeling everywhere, on the streets I see families out walking, dad’s are playing with their kids, there is a kind smile on many faces, as if the new year is a new hope and the one time of the year when the spiritual batteries can be be charged for what is to come.
We have created our own new year’s tradition – the year’s first visit to the beach. Going to the beach in winter, with a warm sun and a cool breeze, seeing birds and hearing the waves, watching a golden sun shining from a hazy sky, there is something very tranquil and soulful about the experience. Thinking about last year’s beach visit and seeing our son this year, it is amazing to realize how much he has grown this past year, how the little boy who could hardly speak and had difficulty keeping his balance when climbing around, now can tell us exactly what he wants, including him not needing any help when exploring the beach all by himself. Seeing the joy in my son as he was running around, smiling, laughing, I could not help feeling that this will be a good year.
Share this story: