Japan celebrates New Year with traditional fervor

Tokyo, Jan.15 (ANI): New Year in Japan is exciting and is celebrated with the same amount of tradition, pomp and gaiety like in other countries.

On New Year’s eve, visitors take part in `Hatsumode’, which means the first visit of the year to a temple. The visit to the shrine is undertaken around midnight and can be a truly memorable experience. It is a time when people gather to express their gratitude for divine protection during the past year and make wishes for a prosperous, healthy and successful year ahead.

Hatsumode festivities are held at practically every shrine and temple across Japan.People purchase amulets and lucky charms at the beginning of the year. Items such as the Hama-ya arrow, which has been blessed by a priest and destroys evil, or the Omamori, a protective amulet, and other talismans are commonly purchased. Hot drinks are also served to the visitors.

People draw “Omikuji”- the sacred lot. This is one of the traditional activities related to Hatsumode as they randomly pick a strip out of a box and read their fortune and good health.

As per tradition, if the prediction is not good, it is a custom to fold-up the paper and attach it to a tree or wire. Even if you are not particularly religious, Hatsumode welcomes everybody regardless of religious persuasion.

Guillaume Bergez, a visitor from Paris, France, said, “I came here because I wanted to do the Hatsumode, because it’s very popular in Japan. For me, it’s more like a tradition than the religious thing. I’m not religious at all, but I like this traditional thing, so that’s also why I came here, and I’m glad they have accepted me. I spent my time mostly in Tokyo and in popular places like Shibuya or Harajuku, but I also like the more traditional places.

Japan consists of 47 prefectures and each of them has a special product of agriculture, fishery and sweets.

All of them are provided with the “Asakusa Marugoto Nippon” or the “All of Japan” shopping mall.

At the end of last year, “Marugoto Nippon” launched in Asakusa Tokyo. It prepares what it calls the Japanese 47 Prefecture’s special product.

“Look! Eat! Take it!” – That is the concept of “Maruguto Nippon”.

It consists of 50 shops preparing special Japanese food and handicrafts. During New Year holiday it attracts a huge crowd.

It symbolises both a modern and a traditional Japan.

Soshi Tominaga, a store manager with Asakusa Marugoto Nippon, said, “We invented traditional and inherited handcraft or skill to fit to modern sense. Design is also modernised.”

Customer can also enjoy the taste of their native places.

The bakery of Tokyo and side dish shop of Tokushima Prefecture collaborate to produce tubular roll or Chikuwa Roll.

Fumiko Shimizu, another store manager, said, “It is sold out every day and we produce limited products. “Chikuwa” – tubular roll – is cooked by Japanese traditional cooking. Roll bread is made from rice powder which creates very soft feeling.”

Daiki Saitoh, a store manager with Sasada, a boiled fish paste store, said, “We discuss it friendly and decided to create a new product. This combination has started from casual conversation. But trial tasting was very delicious.”

Within 20 days of its launch, some 46000 customers have visited the building. During occasions like New Year, the number of visitors rises manifold. (ANI)

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