While Christmas is the biggest holiday for most in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, Japan puts all its passion into their Japanese New Year celebrations to another level. That means that if you’re keen to escape Christmas fervor, Japan is a great place for your end-of-year holidays. So start to learn how to say happy new year in Japanese.
What’s it Like to Spend Christmas in Japan?
You won’t be completely free of Yuletide cheer, as festive lights, markets and Christmas trees. Festive campaigns still dominate commercial centers, but outside of that, there’s not really a Christmas religious culture. For locals, Christmas Day is like any other day of the week.
However everyone can have a perfect Christmas in Asia along the beach as well. Among so many countries you can find on our list of top 20 places in Asia for your Christmas holidays one to suit your needs.
Activities on Japanese New Year
One oddity you might notice is Japan’s tradition of eating KFC on Christmas Day. The global fast-food chain even offers a special “Kentucky for Christmas” dinner. Christmas Eve is usually celebrated by couples, who might plan a romantic date and exchange gifts on the night.
New Year in Japan is a different story. Often the longest holiday that the average working Japanese person has. The year’s end sees families and friends gather to remember the past 12 months and celebrate the arrival of the next. Colleagues also exchange gifts at the end of the year – a tradition called oseibo.
Unlike in the West, December 31st is not traditionally a huge party night. Most people choose to spend time at home with family. Traditionally the time with family at that time its to watching end-of-year shows and eating long. Also eating chunky, hot soba (buckwheat) noodles which symbolize long life and longevity. So if your go for a Family Trip to Japan, take the chance to enjoy this traditional way of celebration.
Japanese New Year Food
Gorging on a bowl of Toshikoshi soba on New Year’s Eve in Japan is akin to singing Auld Lang Syne – everyone does it from Tokyo to Hokkaido, but no one is certain how the tradition started. Roughly translated, toshikoshi means ‘end the old year and enter the New Year’. The noodles are commonly served in a comforting and delicious hot broth with vegetables and perhaps an egg as a Japanese new year ritual.
We hear that the tradition meaning of eating soba in December sprung from the Edo period. When the thick buckwheat noodle was at its most delicious. Because that’s when the best flour of the year was harvested. It was also common for soba to be the dish that everyone ate at the end of each month. Misoka-soba (‘last day of a month noodles’) was a meal that most devoured in celebration of another month passing.
The logical conclusion of culture and cuisine is that because of the convergence of these two factors, the end of December was the most popular time to eat the delicious buckwheat noodles even as far back as the Edo period.
If you’re thinking of visiting Japan in the New Year, our Japan Travel Specialists would be delighted to help you plan your tailor-made luxury holiday. Simply fill in our online inquiry form and let our team of local experts plan the perfect vacation for you.