Nenmatsu-Nenshi (New Year’s eve and New Year’s day) – 年末年始


The New Year’s day will come soon so today’s topic is Nenmatsu-Nenshi!

New Year’s Day

New year is the biggest celebration in Japan.  We eat traditional food which is called Osechi on the new year’s day and people sent and receive Nenga-jo (年賀状) for the day. And only kids can get Otoshi-dama.(お年玉: money given as a gift at the New year)

New Year’s Eve

On the New Year’s eve, also we have very important tradition which we must do. It is O-soji. Soji basically means ‘cleaning up something’ or ‘tidying up something’ and O- is a word for describing large-scale or emphasising how they are big or how their scale is large. Yes we have to clean up whole the house from bottom to the top. O-soji has been being doing by Japanese people from Heian period (more than 1000years ago) for purifying of bad fortune, for this reason people still do it on the New Year’s eve to have a good new year and being clear themselves. After that finally people can be relaxed. Normally, lots of people spend time watching TV. During the New Year’s eve and the New Year’s day you can watch loads of special TV program for the celebration. In the meantime, the time to eat Toshikoshi-soba will come. This is also very Japanese traditional thing for the New Year’s eve. Toshikoshi means seeing the old year out and Soba means Japanese noodle so we have Soba in the night on the New Year’s eve till the New Year’s day will come. Then we go to temple or shrine for Hatsu-mode. (初詣: to pray to god for having a good year) These are traditional Japanese New Year’s day activities. 

Happy christmas and Happy New Year!!

Illumination – イルミネーション

Illumination – イルミネーション

Illumination activity has become quite popular in Japan. Cities get lighted by millions of colourful lights for couple of months. It is absolutely beautiful. You should go and see it!

History of illumination activity in Japan

The very first illuminations in Japan

In 1903, Osaka, the national industrial exhibition was held and the very first illumination in Japan was displayed there. The picture on the left depicts the very first illumination in Japan at that time. The ladies in front of the picture still wear Kimono (Japanese traditional wear) but they decorated lights on the buildings already and it looks very beautiful.

Ginza Meizi-ya Christmas ads

One year later, illuminations were decorated in Christmas tree by Hakaru Isono (磯野計) in Ginza,Tokyo. He’d been to the UK to study commercial science and he was influenced by their Christmas culture. So he brought back some stuff and started to imitate the culture from the UK in Tokyo and then one of them was the illumination in tree. This is the very first decorated Christmas tree in Japan therefore illumination in Christmas tree became well-known seasonal tradition in Japan.

Big illumination activities in Japan

SENDAI Pageant of Lights

In 1986, Sendai, Miyagi (宮城県仙台市) people started to display millions of lights in trees on the road.This is called SENDAI Pageant of Lights and this is the first illumination activity in Japan.Then this event has become quite famous not only in Japan, but also in some other countries so some organisations from them come to Sendai to inspect the activity and get advised. Several years later cities across Japan started to decorate lights in trees, on buildings or even landmarks.Thus illumination activities have spread all around Japan.

Kobe Luminarie

Especially, Kobe Luminarie (is name of the event in Kobe) is influenced by the event. It started in 1995, after the earthquake hit Kobe, they organised the activity for reviving the city. And now Kobe Luminarie has become the one of the biggest illumination activities in Japan. These two big illumination activities are held in December therefore illumination activities are taken hold by Japanese people as the one of the most popular seasonal tradition in winter.

Illumination activities in Japan today

As I mentioned, illumination activities has become quite popular in Japan. Especially, today, they are quite popular with young people for dating. So illumination activities in Japan are also recognised as the event for a couple or dating. Basically, in this season you can find lots of stuff for a couple. For instance, loads of magazines make features of Christmas dating and they definitely write about illumination activities for dating. In fact, incredibly number of people go to see it every year. But on the other hand, some people hate it and get hurt by the beautiful lights. For example, my friend is made upset by the colourful wonderland. He said “I have to get a girlfriend before it turns off.”

Anyway they are absolutely beautiful so you can enjoy with your family, friends or even yourselves. I strongly recommend to see it at least once!

Weird Izakaya in Tokyo

Today I’m going to talking about weird Izakayas in Tokyo.

Basically Izakaya is just a place for drinking and having some foods but nowadays they start to distinguish between other Izakayas to be unique. So I will show you some of them.

1. Ninja Akasaka

As you can see, Ninja (I don’t know they are qualified or not.) works there.

Address: Chiyoda-ku, Nagata-cho 2-14-3, Tokyo  Tokyu Plaza Akasaka 1F

2. Vows (Bozu) Bar 

Vows (Bozu) means kind of hair cut which is clean-shaven or lads and sometimes monk;Buddhist priest in Japanese. So in here monks work as bar man.

Address: Shinjuku-ku, Araki-cho 6-42  AG buiding 2F

3. Izakaya Kagaya

Welcome to weird country Japan. In my opinion, here is the weirdest Izakaya in Japan. I can’t explain how they are weird but anyway they are.. If you’d love to discover new experience, you should see what is going on there. But please do not hate Japan.

Address: Minato-ku, Shinbashi 2-15-12  Hanasada building B1