明けましておめでと。Or Happy New Year!!!
New Year is important. In every country, all around the world. There is no exception.
And everywhere New Year is celebrated with a big party, with a glass of sparkling wine, maybe two, with music and – of course – firework that’s shot by everyone into the air of the beginning first day of a new, exciting year. And especially in Japan, one of the most settled countries in this world, should be one of the greatest New Year’s celebrations you can find all over the earth, right?
I have to say, I really thought so. But (unfortunately) it isn’t like this.
Of course, New Year is also very important in Japan. It’s actually the most important holiday for Japanese. But there is no firework like in Europe, or USA, or China. And there is also no big party.
While in my home country New Year starts in the evening of December 31st and ends in the early morning of January 1st (with a headache…), the Japanese oshogatsu starts days before with preparations (cleaning house, preparing food) and ends between 3rd and 4th January. It’s a time to spend with one’s family at home and which is abundant in traditions.
That’s why a lot of my Japanese friends went to their homes out of Tokyo. Only “the foreigners” and a few Japanese have been left.
And, although we all are interested in Japanese tradition, we also wanted to celebrate a bit in “Western style”. With this in the back of our heads did we start our “New Year’s journey”, heading for Shibuya.
Instead of blocking Shibuya Cross for cars (like the years before) the police blocked Shibuya Cross and many bigger streets for passersby (because there has been some trouble last year). So, the area around started to get filled up with young people, with us as well. And shortly before midnight we have been so many that some blockades broke and with “the confidence of victory” people ran screaming and laughing around. Everyone wished everyone a “Happy New Year” and bottles of champagne have been opened everywhere.
It was funny to see, how people float onto the streets every time when the flash lights turned green. …and how the police forced them to go back to the walkways as soon as the lights turned red again, a bit like ebb and flow.
Even so, it was sad that the police (government) tried to prohibit every fun in the streets. Whenever people started to stand in larger groups together (like 30, 50 people) police came and broke it up without thinking or asking about what they have done.
It felt a bit like they didn’t want us to celebrate New Year in Shibuya, although everything “we” did was without aggression or violence.
I guess, staying out at New Year’s Eve is a “new trend” for Japanese. They need first to find a place for everyone to stay and celebrate New Year in a “relaxed” atmosphere (like the street in front of the Brandenburger Gate in Berlin). In my eyes it was a big mistake to block Shibuya cross. There had been fewer conflicts with the police if not everyone wanted to break those blockades, etc. I wonder what the government will do next year…
Anyway, after four hours it was time for us to leave Shibuya directly to Roppongi. Entering a club and partying is what we often do in Germany and we did the same here.
Around 5 a.m. in the morning we waited for a train, taking us to Yushima Tenmangu, a shrine where a friend of us is working (going to a shrine at New Year is called Hatsumode). When we arrived around 6 a.m. it was the perfect time. Less people and we didn’t have to wait in a line for praying or buying good luck charms.
And, of course, we did Omikuji: choosing a stripe from a box with random fortunes written on it. At 6.30 the sun started to change the color of the sky. It was time for us to leave to see the first sunrise of the year, the hatsu-hinode.
Back in Asakusa we had a nice view over Sky Tree, the Asahi Building and the sun rising up behind them. After this we rewarded ourselves with some soba and went home. It was a full and exciting night with traditions and (more or less) party.
So, don’t expect a big street party without any trouble here in Japan. The police will stop it in any way, I think.
But, as long as you have some friends here and you are a bit interested in Japanese traditions, you can have one of the most fulfilling New Year nights of your life. I had it for sure.
2014年1月17日 金曜日 7:43 PM Category: 英語勉強情報のまとめ.