New Year sees a wide variety of festivals take place, both old and new
The end of the year hurries past and people welcome the new one in with a clear mind. Various events during the year-end and New Year were held to welcome Toshigami-sama, who brings happiness at the beginning of the new year. New Year decorations like kadomatsu and shimenawa are displayed as objects called "yorishiro" to encourage Toshigami-sama to stay at each house. It is also said that Toshigami-sama is the spirit of our ancestors, so people welcome in the new year with their own personal feelings of gratitude. Furthermore, special festivals are said to be held to draw a line under one year and to return to everyday life with a fresh mind. Many new events which represent the winter season are added to old traditions and customs which have been cherished and passed down since ancient times. Through this wide variety of events, including old and new, we celebrate New Year.
Entrust our hopes for the new year with objects which bring luck
In Japan, there are many objects which are believed to bring luck. These objects, like the New Year's decorations sold at the year-end market, wooden plaques and bamboo rakes for business prosperity which can be purchased when you first visit a shrine in the new year, have become a common part of our lives at year-end and New Year's. These are things people can draw strength from by wearing or displaying to give thanks for having got through the year without any trouble and to wish for a peaceful new year. People wish for various things, like a rich harvest, good health, family safety and continuation of the family. These objects have long been with people's lives. People don't simply wish for things, however, they also have old traditions of making new resolutions or setting new goals and expressing them in New Year's calligraphy or putting thoughts into a daruma doll. People calm down from the excitement of the beginning of a new year and take time quietly thinking about how they will spend the coming year.
Various festivals all with their own styles and wishing for happiness and protection against evil are held along Tokaido. "Toka Ebisu", a festival held with wishes for business success, becomes the topic of conversation every year for the selection of its shrine maidens. Then there's the "Hadaka Matsuri" in Aichi, where the fierce enthusiasm of the men wishing for happiness is overwhelming. Meanwhile, "Toyohashi Oni Matsuri" is one of Japan's strangest festivals in which people try to get lucky candies while being showered with white powder... Great crowds of people visit New Year's festivals because they believe, in a way, that the whole year's fortune is entrusted to the festivals. Why not experience the happy atmosphere unique to this time of the year, and leave the fun of finding out whether you receive good luck or divine blessing until later?
A satisfying New Year spent inviting luck and restoring the soul
Various events featuring aspects of western culture arranged in an original Japanese way which help us to forget the cold have become part of the year-end and New Year tradition these days, alongside the traditional Japanese festivals. Gorgeous, modern events are growing in number year on year, like the Christmas illuminations that wrap whole towns, and shows with glittering lights, and some of them have become the regional traditions. By the way, the illuminations glitter more clearly in winter since the air is dry and thus interference from moisture in the air is reduced. Why not enjoy the especially beautiful scenes limited to this time of the year at these fantastical and romantic events? Start a glittering and satisfying new year by experiencing festivals and events limited to this season and attracting good luck.