《Happy to be busy?》
The New Year’s holiday is from January 1 to January 3 in Japan. We will be busy in doing a lot of things on A New Year’s Day in Japan. It might be heard strange for you because it is a national holiday to wind yourself down at home on the day. In fact, consequently, we will feel relaxed when doing or imaging things that are really typical for the day in Japan. The activities for the day seem to be grouped into 2; very traditional Japanese ones, and rather casual ones. Let us learn the reasons why Japanese people will be happy to be busy on A New Year’s Day.
#1: As people decorate the Christmas trees for Christmas, some Japanese will put up decorative pine trees (Kado-Matsu) in front of the gate during New Year’s holidays. It has been believed that the spirit of the God will reside with Kado-Matsu to bring happiness to the family during the holidays.
#2: There are 2 more important decorative things, Sime-Kazari and Kagami- Mochi. Shime-Kazari is a decoration of straw rope which we put inside the house with wishing a God being beside the decoration. Kagami-Mochi is also put the inside the house which is consisted of rice cake (Mochi) and a bitter orange (Daidai.) Kagami is a mirror in Japanese which has been believed that a God resides with one. Because a mirror was supposed to be round in Japan, people began to use round Mochi like a mirror for the decoration to be named Kagami Mochi. People used to make Shime-Kazari and Kagami-Mochi by themselves before, but we will see the ones at department stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, or other kinds of shops like Hyakkinn to be purchased.
《Where to go?》
Most Japanese have “a New Year’s visit to shrine” called “Hatsu-Moude” in Japanese. Around 0:00 A.M. of a New Year’s Day, every shrine will be crowded with people who would offer their prayer no matter what religion they have. You know that every God is generous and is fair to all kinds of humankind! When we arrive at a shrine, we firstly go to pray with money offering (O-Saisenn) at an altar. Secondly, we draw a fortune slip (O-Mikuji) at a few hundreds JPY. Some people purchase a ceremonial arrow (Ha-Ma-Ya) which has been believed to drive away (=Ha) evil things (=Ma.) Now, you will know arrow is Ya in Japanese.
Anyway, people have “Hatsu-Moude” to enjoy sharing holy time with our family, friends, or lovers at shrines.
(Reference http://www.irasutoya.com/2012/04/blog-post_14.html )
《Pleasure for children or for adults?》
When a family go back home, children will BE A GOOD BOY/GIRL to have a money gift (O-Toshi-Dama) as we follow the custom to give money to minors on a New Year’s Day in Japan. Because some families will have a New Year’s party with their relatives, aunts, uncles or other adults might need to prepare O-Toshi-Dama for their GOOD BOYS/GIRLS. It is supposed to be in a special envelop called “Pochi-Bukuro” to be purchased at every shop.
Nowadays, people will be exited to purchase a “Lucky bag” called “Fuku-Bukuro” at every shop. For example, if you pay 5,000 JPY for a “Lucky bag” at a clothing shop, the clothes inside the bag will be worth 10,000 JPY. At some shops, you can see the items inside the bag in advance, and will be pleased with all the items while some shops might not let you know the items in detail. In any case, you will know it is reasonable as to the price.
People in Japan will be the busiest on a New Year’s Day to enjoy ourselves, and the BUSIEST DAY will surely give us gasoline to take the engine to full power for the first day at our work.