Life in Japan Personal

Uh… Happy New Year?

8 January 2014

I just realized I didn’t acknowledge on this blog that it’s 2014. Lest 2014 remain sour about it and gives me a hard time for the rest of the year, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

It’s barely 8 days in, so it still counts.

I don’t know if it’s age, but I have gradually grown to be indifferent to New Year’s. In the past, it was meeting up with friends, either to countdown or celebrate in some manner.

Nowadays, New Year’s Eve is just another day. Although in Japan, it’s a very good time, because Fu got a 9-day stretch holiday!

Yes. NINE.
Including weekends la.

Jan 1 is the Japanese New Year, and it’s one of their biggest holidays. They take it very seriously, with lots of customs accompany the festival.

osechi

What is to me, expensive New Year food called Osechi.
These pictured here cost about SGD $300, and is the “normal” price for Osechi.
Japanese eat Osechi as part of New Year celebrations.

osechi2

A prettier picture to make the $$$ look more worth it

So on New Year’s Eve, a couple of minutes before 12am, we turned on the TV to see if we can inject that tiny bit of festivity into the final part of the day by counting down to the new year.

You know, in Singapore, we have those 10! 9! 8! … then HAPPY NEW YEAR! Fireworks! Streamers! Booming music! That’s normal, right?

So we channel-surfed looking for a program like that.

THERE WERE NONE.

There were news, documentaries, random programs but no channel is counting down! Dunno is it because all my channels are free or something… o_O How can it be that such a big day has no coverage???

In the end, the only channel that had some semblance of a program acknowledging the arrival of new year is one where the main feature is a giant bell and many monks standing by.

It was so quiet. A complete opposite of the usual rambunctious activities we are used to.

Fu was flustered when I stopped at that channel haha. He was all “It’s already 11.58!!! Are you sure this is ok?!”

But it’s a refreshing change and new experience. Why not? ;)

There was no counting down. I suppose the clock struck 12 when the monks started ringing the bell. When the camera panned around the area, almost everyone had their heads bowed and their hands clasped in prayer.

A video I found online:

Apparently, they ring the bell 108 times over 2 hours. I wouldn’t know, since we turned off the TV about 10 seconds after hahaha.

According to Wikipedia:

At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times (除夜の鐘 joyanokane) to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires regarding sense and feeling in every Japanese citizen. Japanese believe that the ringing of bells can rid their sins during the previous year.

I’m quite happy I got to learn a new thing about Japanese culture.

1 Comment

  • Reply Celebrating New Year in Japan • tripleRIN 3 January 2015 at 11:08 pm

    […] and that was our Japanese New Year this year! Quite different from last year, although last year was also sooooomewhat uniquely Japanese? […]

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