How Japanese spend New Year's Day lately....
Stay away from home....
Well, you may be a bit disappointed. But these days, more and more family stay away from home for the New Year's days. As you may know, New Year's Days is much more important than Christmas (or Hanuka or whatever you call "happy holiday") holiday season. Everybody takes at least these three-day off, from Jan. 1. In my case, the last day of work was Friday, 26, and the first day was Jan. 5 - so I took 9 consecutive day-off, in fact it was a week-off.
Anyway, back to the topic: so, where do people stay? At the hotel! Now hotels provide everything for the traditional Japanese "things", from the new year's eve soba to Osechi (new year's traditional cuisine) to new year games - with every so increasing cost, though :-(
New Year's Day at the hotel
No need to lament. Sure, it would be great if we could have such traditional new years days at home - but ever so shrinking size of the family makes it more and more difficult to justify making such a huge preparation.
Look at the photo of "Osechi". Wonderful assortment of the traditional Japanese foods, cocking. So many kinds, so much variety. It would be very hard for the majority of the households to do this with just 2-3 family members. This hotel Osechi was wonderful, made by the trained chefs, great materials.
And, look at the Okoto players in the center of the Osechi room. This is really the Japanese new year. Listening to the traditional Okoto music really soothes you and makes you feel "new year". Eating Osechi, listening to Okoto - heaven on earth :-)
And go to "Hatsu-moude" (First Shrine Visit)
The first pic is another attraction at the Osechi, called "Shishi-mai" (dance of the lion). Another Japanese thing which reminds you of being in the new year.
We then went out and visited the nearby Shrine (well, in this case a temple - Sengakuji, where the famous 47 samurais are resting) to pray for the good year.
Please note that temple and shrine were separated clearly, but the line used to be blurry. Therefore, temples still welcome such "Hatsu-moude" guests.
So, that's it for how we spent our new year (from the new year's eve night to Jan. 2).
If you ever come to Japan around that time (most expensive time, maybe), you may want to try the "new year package" at the hotel. It now is really worth it.