The new year is greeted differently in Japan. It is a three day holiday. Although there are parties and fireworks on the eve, the focus is more like Thanksgiving, wit big family gatherings and a traditional meal.
The New Year is the most important celebration in Japan and, even if they look like simple ornaments, the traditional Japanese New Year decorations have complex spiritual meanings: some are for protection, other for welcoming the gods (kami)
Like American Christmas, cards are sent to all your friends. The are marked as “nengajo’, and the post office holds them and delivers them all on January 1st. I mailed about 70 just a few days before, and they were delivered on time.
Also like American Christmas, decorations are in order. I put a traditional pine branch outside, and had simple but traditional decorations in the house.
I was privileged to enjoy Jan 1 with the Osugi Family, and Jan 2 with Takagi san’s Family. In 2007, Sharin and I came to Japan for the first time as members of the Salem Ota club. We did a homestay for 24 hours with the Osugi Family. This year I was privilegged to be invited to share new year’s day with the family.
On the 2007 trip, we were accompanied on a tour of Tokyo by Tsuneko Takag san and others. We have been friends since then. Takagi san held her annual new year dinner for her family – some 21 people plus me.