Created for expats living in Japan

Japanese New Year Traditions

This article is contributed by Tokyo Central Japanese Language School.

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Hello everyone! I'm Eri, a Japanese language teacher.

January 1st is the beginning of the new year. What is typical Japanese New Year? 

Rice Cakes

I think it's a food that people outside of Japan are not familiar with. It is made by sticky rice. It is a delicious food that can be baked or deep fried. In Japan, mochi is eaten on "special occasions" such as weddings and New Year's. It is a very auspicious food.

You can buy them in convenience stores and supermarkets! They can be eaten with a variety of flavors, such as soy sauce, soybean flour, red bean paste, seaweed, sugar, butter, etc.! However, be sure to chew well. And be careful not to eat too much...


Osechi is one of the New Year's foods that bring good luck. It is filled with foods that you would not normally eat. Eating Osechi with all the relatives was a feast for a child!

New Year's Ball

Speaking of the Japanese New Year, there is the New Year's gift!

This is money given by parents, grandparents, and relatives during the New Year. It is money given by parents, grandparents, and relatives on New Year's Day, and is generally given to children. I remember receiving a total of 20,000 to 30,000 yen as a child.

I used to look forward to it every year, wondering what I would spend it on. Now it's my turn to hand it over, so I'm afraid of the New Year... As an adult, I think it's a good idea to make children aware of money management.

A dream of good fortune

Hatsu-Yume" is a dream that you have from January 1st to January 2nd. In Japan, it is said to be a good omen to have the first dream of "One Fuji, Two Hawks, Three Eggplants".

Why is it said to be good luck?


Fuji・・・Good luck for the end of the year.

Hawk・・・Good luck (because it flies upward)

Eggplant・・・ Good health (because it has no hair, which means no injuries)


Osechi (New Year's food), Omochi (rice cakes), and New Year's gifts may be hard to experience. It's not easy to experience Osechi, mochi and New Year's gifts, but you can dream about them anywhere, so it would be fun to check if your first dream is "One Fuji, Two Eagles, Three Eggplants", a good omen for the New Year!