|This is the year of the snake. People write wishes on the back of these wooden cards and hang them at shrines.|
New Year’s Day is a big deal in Japan. Many people say that Christmas is the “biggest” holiday in the USA-New Year’s Day is by far the biggest holiday in Japan.
Similar to the Christmas cards with which many of you are familiar, most Japanese families send out New Year’s cards to their friends and family. These cards arrive on January 1st.
The Japanese people are known for being extremely hard working and diligent as a people. Many of the stereotypical Japanese “salary men” work and commute obscene hours six days a week. New Year’s Day is one of the few days during the year that is a true holiday for almost everyone.
To celebrate the new year, families gather together and visit shrines and temples. They pray for health and prosperity and collect their fortune for the year. Everyone is only allowed one fortune per year. The fortunes range from the worst (daikyou) to the best (daikichi).
|In line waiting on New Year's Day. Kawagoe, Saitama.|
|Karl with his Daikichi fortune.|
My three years in Japan have yielded only bad fortunes. Though my husband has always received the best fortunes. Our Japanese friends tell us that this creates the perfect balance in our relationship.
Let’s hope they are right!