Celebrating the New Year in Japan (and CareFinder Holiday Hours)

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celebrating the new year in Japan in 2020

Celebrating the New Year in Japan (and CareFinder Holiday Hours)


Now that 2020 is coming to a close, we are very happy to celebrate the New Year. As with everything else, the New Year's celebrations in Japan will look a bit different than they have in the past, but there are still ways to enjoy the holiday safely with friends and family. Read on for tips on traditional New Year's activities and information on CareFinder's holiday hours! Cheers to 2021!

New Year's Eve in Japan

Chances are most households in Japan will have their television sets dialed into Kohaku Uta Gessen throughout the day on New Year's Eve. In case you aren't familiar, this long-running (it's been broadcast since 1951) singing competition is a can't-miss, four-hour-long bonanza of Japan's brightest new stars and old favorites. Divide your family into white and red teams and see who wins!

If you feel like bearing the cold and staying up until midnight, you can also check out joya no kane — the Buddhist bell-ringing ceremony — at temples throughout Tokyo. In the past, members of the public have been invited to help ring the temple bells, but due to COVID-19, that honor is limited to those who are pre-registered or monks. For a list of participating temples in Tokyo, check out Time Out Tokyo.

New Year's Day in Japan: Hatsumode

Couldn't stay awake to take part in joya no kane? No worries! You can instead commemorate your first visit to a temple or shrine in the new year. Called hatsumode in Japanese, it's your chance to pray for good luck in the year ahead. We can all agree a lucky 2021 would be much appreciated!

This list from Time Out Tokyo gives a rundown of temples and shrines you can visit in Tokyo. Many have abridged hours or celebrations due to COVID-19 (story of the year!) but there are still lots of hatsumode options for your family.

New Year's in Japan: Food

Kick things off in 2021 with a delicious meal! Osechi ryori are traditional New Years foods that come in special bento-like boxes called jubako. Many of the dishes are symbolic and meant to bring luck, health and prosperity in the year ahead.

Daidai are bitter oranges native to Asia. Their name translates to "several generations," so it holds a special place in New Year's decorations, as well as on top of kagami mochi.

Kagami Mochi have been served since the 14th century. Consisting of two or three stacked mochi, they have several meanings: the sun and moon, the new year and the old, yin and yang.

Ozoni is a soup that also features mochi (notice a theme?). It's said to have originated in samurai culture and is considered a very lucky meal to consume in the New Year.

Seven-herb rice soup (nanakusa-no-sekku) is traditionally eaten on the 7th day of January to ensure health and prosperity in the year ahead. Made with herbs associated with springtime, the soup is a yummy way to ward off evil.

Toshikoshi soba is best eaten on New Year's Eve to symbolize strength (buckwheat is a resilient crop) and letting go of the past year's troubles (because soba is an easy noodle to eat).

CareFinder Office Hours

The CareFinder team will be off for the holiday beginning Tuesday, 29 December through Sunday, 3 January 2021. We'll be back to normal office hours on Monday, 4 January. If you need to get a hold of us for any reason while we're out, please feel free to reach out to info@carefinder.jp — we will be monitoring email!

We hope your family has a happy and healthy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

Yoi Otoshi wo!


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