How we spend New year’s holiday in Japan

In Japan, the most important holiday is a new year day, 1/1.
And New year’s holiday starts from 12/27 or 12/28 to 1/4 or 1/5.

I’ll talk about how Japanese spend New year’s holiday on this page.




First we usually do Osoji, it means clean entirely our house.
Why we clean our house on the end of year?
Because old Japanese believe if we clean our house entirely on the end of year, god would come to our house on new year’s day.
Some lazy people don’t do it. Yes it’s me. But most Japanese do it like a year routine.

Returning to hometown


There are many young people who live alone.
Many of them return to their hometown in New year’s holiday to unite family.
So in this period, most trains are fulled with people who have suitcase and highways are always crowded.

Watch TV


In every year, Japanese TV company run a 24 hour TV.
24 hour TV is run by idles, so many Japanese watch TV with family on this period.
One of the best point of this 24 hour TV is 100km Marathon. A comedian challenge to run 100km whithin 24 hours.

The most famous TV program is “Kohaku Uta gassen”, which means Singing battle among red team vs white team.
Singing on “Kohaku Uta gassen” is one of the dream for Japanese singers, so singer’s quolities are best on this prigram.

Eat soba


In 12/31, we eat soba as a toshi-koshi soba. Soba is noodle. Toshi-koshi means enter a new year.
This is a tradition to cut the all bad things before entering into year because soba is easy to cut.

Eat mochi


We usually overslept on 1/1 because of the popular TV program running on 12/31.
When we wake up, we eat mochi. mochi is a rice cake.

Eating mochi is Japanese tradition.
By the way, we eat them not as a snack, but as a main food.

Here’s a description of how we eat mochi.

How we eat mochi in Japan. 7 common ways

And here’s article about how we make mochi

How Japanese make mochi by Mochitsuki

Eat sekihan – red rice

Some Japanese eat Sekihan on New year’s holiday.
Sekihan is a mochi-rice with Azuki, which is sweet beans.

mochi-rice is a little bit stickier than normal rice.
It’s delicious when eating it with some salt.

Eating Sekihan on special occation is one of the omen in Japan.

Giving Otoshidama to children


In our culture, we give money to children on New year’s day as Otoshidama.
We usually give Otoshidama to our kids and our relatives kids.

How much money we give as Otoshidama depends on kid’s age.

We give Otoshidama to 10 year’s kid about 3000 yen (about 30$)
We give Otoshidama to 13 year’s kid about 5000 yen (about 50$)
We give Otoshidama to 15 year’s kid about 10000 yen (about 100$)

Rich people give more.

And if a kid have many relatives, this kid would get great amount of Otoshidama.
In my case, my parents didn’t give me Otoshidama, because my parents are stingy.
But my grandparents of father, grandparents of mother, father’s brother, 3 mother’s sisters gave me Otoshidama.

So it’s about 6 people gave me Otoshidama.
That’s about 30,000 Yen (30$) when I was 13, so I could buy video game by Otoshidama.

Hatsumode – Visiting temple or shrine

shrine1 shrine2

Hatsumode means going to temple or shrine on New year’s holidays, Especially 1/1~1/3.

In the temple or shrine, we put 5 yen coin on the offering box, then ring a bell, close our eyes, clap our hands twice and make our wish.
That’s what every Japanese do in Hatsumode.

After that, some people buy Omikuji.

Omikuji are random fortunes written on strips of paper at shrines and temples in Japan.
(Reference: O-mikuji Wikipedia)

Omikuji results are

Lucky to unlucky successfully…


These words are written on the paper. That’s Omikuji.

Daikichi means greatest luck.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy this, because not everybody can hit Dai-kichi.
But most Japanese girls want to buy it, because they love fortunes.
And kids love to buy them for fun.



  • Doing Osoji (Cleaning the house)
  • Reunitting family and watch TV
  • Eat Toshi-koshi Soba on 12/31
  • Eat mochi on 1/1~
  • Vissiting temple or shrine on 1/1~

This is how we spend New year’s holiday.