New Year’s Day in Japan, 2012

Japanese New Year is a family holiday, somewhat like American Christmas. Almost everyone cerebrates in one way or another, and there are many family / cultural traditions around it. I’m staying at my parents’ in Yakushima Island this year.

Here are some photos to illustrate this time of the year in Japan:

New Year's Greeting Post Cards

You can send 年賀状 (Nengajo, New Year’s greeting cards) ahead of time to be delivered on January 1st. Just use one of these pre-stamped post cards or write in the word “年賀 (Nenga)” beneath any stamp. I wonder if there is any other country that does this.

Wikipedia says:

(T)his custom existed for people to tell others whom they did not often meet that they were alive and well.

Now that I think of this, it’s kind of like a Facebook Poke that only comes once a year. Twitter went down for New Year’s greetings and Japanese phone carriers advised not to call or text families and friends right after the midnight to avoid overload. Maybe we need a Nenga mark for that kind of communication to queue up greeting messages.

Japanese New Year's Dishes

Had お節 (Osechi) dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s like a fancy bento boxes with stuff you don’t really eat every day. In December I went to a department store in Tokyo and found there are Osechi sets with price tags over 31K JPY (= $40K) for 3 of the boxes similar to the size of those shown here. This one we had isn’t even close, but Osechi for New Year’s is a serious business in Japan. Not a good idea to mess it up.

Flower Arrangement

Mom placed a bunch of flower arrangements throughout the house yesterday. Some flowers came from Mom and Grandpa’s garden.

屋久島大社

In the afternoon we went to Yakushima Taisha Shrine.

For more photos from my trip, check out my Flickr set.

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