The Lunar New Year is known as the Chinese New Year, which is usually celebrated between late January and February, in the first new moon. This year, it will be on February 12, 2021, but if you’re in Japan, you may be wondering, “Does Japan celebrate Chinese New Year?” Here’s what to know.
Does Japan Celebrate Chinese New Year?
Almost all Asian nations celebrate lunar New Year, but you won’t find much in Japan for the Lunar New Year. In 1873 Japan stopped using the lunar calendar and switched to using the solar calendar to keep up with Western countries. However, it is still not evident if it was the reason Japan switched to using the solar calendar.
Lunar New Year in Japan
Japan is a popular destination for tourists from China. There is also a significant number of Chinese refugees and their descendants remaining in enclaves such as Yokohama, Kobe, and Nagasaki’s Chukagai (Chinatown areas) and new communities in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo.
The Chinese Lunar New Year is a festival honoring the ancient rituals and ancestors of the family and celebrating the coming season. Various traditions, practices, and superstitions call back to early Chinese stories attached to New Year’s festivities.
Chinese Lunar New Year may not be technically a national holiday in Japan, the most notable annual celebration in Chinese history, but it is still commonly celebrated.
Lunar New Year Customs
To start the coming year fresh, people traditionally clean their homes before the new year, just like spring cleaning in Western cultures or Osouji in Japan. Any bad luck from the past year is thought to be washed out to make room for good luck to come in. During this time, doors and windows are opened to attract good fortune into one’s home. However, make sure to put away the broom until New Year’s rolls around, or you might risk sweeping away the good luck of the new year.
Another Lunar New Year tradition is the practice of visiting relatives and friends. Elders usually send lucky red envelopes containing crisp bills of money to children and adults younger than them at this period. It is called “lucky money”!
Chinese cakes may not be the only desserts enjoyed in Japan during the Lunar New Year. With wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets) fashioned in the year’s Chinese zodiac animal, Japanese pastries welcome the new year. In the shape of New Year’s creatures, Japanese bakeries often bake small Western-style cakes.
What is The Lunar New Year’s Animal of This Year?
February 16 (Dog)
February 5 (Pig)
January 25 (Mouse)
February 12 (Buffaloes)
February 1 (Tiger)
January 22 (Cat/Rabbit)
How to Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year in Japan
Historically, Japan used to celebrate the New Year according to a traditional lunar calendar like China. However, during the Meiji period, the Japanese government shifted towards westernization and followed the Gregorian calendar, with the new year set to begin on January 1. Yet, the symbolic significance of Chinese zodiac animals remained, with the animals being introduced into the Japanese New Year festivities. And because of the significant number of Chinese refugees and their descendants, the Chinese New Year celebrations are still being observed in Japan.
In Japan, of course, Chinese towns have been celebrating the Lunar New Year, and you will see the annual lantern festival in Nagasaki. It used to be a festival mostly to mark the lunar new year for Chinese people living there. Still, now it has become an opportunity for people to experience the Chinese culture in the Nagasaki region. It’s called the Nagasaki Lantern Festival. However, the festival this year has been canceled due to the pandemic of COVID-19, information confirmed by the official visitor’s guide page of Nagasaki.
The lunar new year is celebrated in some towns in Okinawa and some other southern islands in Japan, but it is not a national holiday. Hence, the businesses are open, and people need to go to work. Like other Asian nations, it is not celebrated, but people in Okinawa still bring up some flags and eat some Okinawan soba, like how people eat soba for new years in mainland Japan.
Lunar New Year in Japan 2021
Please note that some events could be canceled due to the pandemic. So please check the information carefully when you plan your holiday. And also, please don’t forget to wear a mask and practice social distancing! Protect yourself and the people around you!
Does Japan Celebrate Chinese New Year? Now You Know!
Now, if you’re in Japan, you can prepare for your Lunar New Year celebrations! The Guidable team hopes that you found this article to be helpful! After all, we aim for a better life for foreigners in Japan through all of our activities! So, stay tuned and follow us!
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