A dog having a smug look on his face!
Because 2018 is a Year of the Dog. In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to the 12-year cycle.
Reference source: China Highlights
Taken in Shibuya by Akira Tamachi
A sweet porridge of azuki beans boiled and crushed, served in a bowl with mochi.
Taken by Isao Tokuhashi
Hakone Ekiden (箱根駅伝)
Officially called “Tokyo-Hakone Round-Trip College Ekiden Race” (東京箱根間往復大学駅伝競走). It is one of the most prominent university ekiden (駅伝, relay marathon) races of the year held between Tokyo and Hakone on January 2 and 3. The first day distance is 108.0 km while the distance on the second day is 109.9 km.
Taken in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture by Tomoko Komatsuzaki
Visit of the General Public to the Palace for the New Year Greeting (新年一般参賀)
Greeting the royal family during their New Year’s public appearances. Held at the Imperial Palace on January 2 every year.
The name of the holy sake that one can imbibe when one visits a shrine.
Literally “sacred lot” (御神籤). Random fortunes written on strips of paper at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples in Japan.
Japanese amulets commonly sold at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, dedicated to particular Shinto kami as well as Buddhist figures, and are said to provide various forms of luck or protection. The word mamori (守り) means protection, with omamori being the sonkeigo (尊敬語, honorific) form of the word, “to protect”.
Kadomatsu (門松, Lit.”Gate pine”)
A traditional Japanese decoration of the New Year placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome ancestral spirits or kami (the spirits or phenomena that are worshiped in the religion of Shinto) of the harvest. The central portion of the kadomatsu is formed from three large bamboo shoots.
Taken by Isao Tokuhashi
It is considered to be particularly good luck to dream of Mt. Fuji, a hawk, and an eggplant in the new year. This belief has been in place since the early Edo period.
The first sunrise (初日の出, Hatsuhinode)
One of many “firsts” that the Japanese take note of during the celebration of the new year. This tradition has been practiced since ancient times – originally performed at the beginning of spring based on the lunar calendar, hatsuhinode is now practiced faithfully on January 1st and has been since the switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1873.
Taken at Miura Beach, Kanagawa Prefecture by Nana Hirsch
Taken near the Tokyo Olympic Village site, Chuo-ku by Ayaka Sugiyama “vivi”
Taken near Haneda International Airport by Mie Mushiga
New Year’s visit to a shrine/temple (初詣, Hatsumode)
The first Shinto shrine visit of the Japanese New Year. Some people visit a Buddhist temple instead. Many visit on the first, second, or third day of the year as most are off work on those days. There are often long lines at major shrines/temples throughout Japan.
Taken at Meiji Jingu Shrine, Shibuya-ku by Akira Tamachi
Taken at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture by Mac Suzuki
Taken at Zojo-ji Temple, Minato-ku by Tomoko Komatsuzaki
Osechi (御節料理 or お節料理)
Traditional Japanese New Year foods. The tradition started in the Heian Period (794-1185). Osechi are easily recognizable by their special boxes called jubako (重箱).
Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. Mochi is a traditional food for the Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time.
Fox Parade, Kita-ku
Held from December 31, 2017 until February 1, 2018 at several shrines around Oji area in Kita-ku, Tokyo. Japanese legend has it that on New Year’s Eve, foxes gather from all over Japan under a large tree, disguised in human costume to visit the Oji Inari-jinja Shrine. To honor this tale, the Oji Inari-jinja Shrine celebrates hatsumode with inspirations from this legend.
*Reference source: Tokyo Cheapo