Dec. 17, 2015 UPDATE

Kyoto is full of excitement as New Year approaches

2015 is almost over. How are you going to spend the New Year holiday season? Everyone in Japan is very busy. During this time of the year, people get serious about preparing for the New Year. So, how do people greet the New Year? They do this by welcoming gods that bring good fortune for the year into their homes on New Year’s Day. To have a happier year, they welcome in the gods and celebrate. At the end of the year, people are very busy getting ready. They buy food and household supplies, clean up their surroundings, and cleanse their minds, of which “Joya no Kane” is a good example. The preparations are to make sure they welcome the gods in the cleanest possible state, as well as to spend a relaxing time with family. New Year’s Day is about family. Relatives get together and celebrate around the dinner table. They eat lucky foods like mochi (rice cakes) and kamaboko (fish cakes). They also go out for hatsumode. Hatsumode is the first visit of the year to a shrine or temple to pray for good health. Though it can get extremely crowded, it is an important custom. One cannot forget the great deals you can get at big New Year sales. The crowds are big as well, but the sight of the entire town buzzing with excitement is something you only see this time of year. The old capital of Kyoto has a history stretching back 1,300 years. As a city that respects tradition but is always trying new things, Kyoto has many unique customs, ceremonies, and foods for New Year. People going out to enjoy them make Kyoto’s streets even more flamboyant than usual. We want you to enjoy the New Year holiday season just as much as the locals. This time we will introduce some spots that will help you do that.
Part 1Everyone is busy getting ready for New Year!
At the end of the year, everyone heads out on the town to go shopping to prepare to welcome the gods we mentioned earlier. Like anywhere else, Nishiki Market in central Kyoto is packed with people. People buy lucky foods like People buy lucky foods like round mochi cakes and beautiful pink and white kamaboko (a cake made from a white fish paste), as well as traditional decorations and…
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Part 2Enjoy hatsumode!
As the start of the New Year, January 1st is the day for hatsumode. People pray for health, peace, and happiness. If you go to a popular shrine or temple, you are sure to be surprised by the size of the crowd. However, you do not want to let this make you go home discouraged. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and peace after offering a prayer for good health. If you just cannot…
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Part 3Have a delicious and fun New Year holiday!
To get a good start on the year, eating something delicious is a must. It is a lot of fun and gets you in the mood to do your best in the coming year. At New Year in Kyoto there is nothing but good things to eat. Getting your fill of special lucky foods for New Year is a good idea. There are also…
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Part 4Fight for the best bargains! Pray for the best fukubukuro!
Starting on January 2nd, we recommend heading out to the shopping districts downtown (karasuma, Kawaramachi, etc.). This is because that is when the department stores, supermarkets, and other retailers start their big New Year sales! Items are on sale at big discounts on regular prices. 50% off is nothing out of the ordinary, and some items are …
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