As we approach the beginning of yet another new year, my 32nd on this Earth, I look back on 2015 as a year of ups and downs.
New Year days are the most important holidays of Japan. Each day of the eight day celebration has its own uniqueness. Temples, Shrines and other tourist places will be crowded during this time.
As we face the dawn of a new year, its common practice to look back on the year just past and reflect. We reflect not only on what has been achieved in this year, but also perhaps contemplate areas where things didn’t go so well. What mistakes were made and what lessons were learned during this past year?
For many families, the bonding and togtherness aspects of New Year’s culminate in gathering around the kotatsu, a low, heated table, watching t.v., eating, drinking, and playing games. The two most common, and perhaps most traditional games are Karuta and Hanafuda.
As a child, I remember one of the early highlights of the year was the opportunity for cheap toys, video games and new clothes that came with the January sales.
Like any other time, during the New Year also, Japanese have some special food items. There are timings for consuming each kind of food. Among them the most popular and a must followed practice is to eat a set of food in special lunch boxes named as Osechi Ryori. This is consumed as the first food just after welcoming the New Year.