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Omisoka (大晦日) in Japan

http://www.misaki.rdy.jp/illust/kisetu/ivent/oomisoka/sozai/401.jpg
(Omisoka (大晦日) / Image)

Today is Omisoka (大晦日), New Year's Eve herein Japan.
Omisoka (大晦日), New Year's Eve, is the second-most important day in Japanese tradition because it is the final day of the old year and the eve of New Year's Day, which is the most important day of the year.
http://www.soba-yamasho.com/hanbai/shouhin/images/tensoba.JPG
(toshikoshi-soba (年越しそば) / Image)
ファイル:Japanese Osechi ryouri.jpg
(Osechi (おせち) / Image)

After cleaning, Japanese have the largest dinner of the year. Around 11:00 pm on Omisoka at home, people often gather for one last time in the old year to have a bowl of toshikoshi-soba (年越しそば) or toshikoshi-udon (年越しうどん) together?a tradition based on people's association of eating the long noodles with “crossing over from one year to the next,” which is the meaning of toshi-koshi. While the noodles are often eaten plain, or with chopped scallions, in some localities people top them with tempura. Traditionally, families make Osechi (おせち) for new year day because cooking during the first 3 days of the new year is not a good thing for Kami of kitchens. But nowadays, most of families buy Osechi or cook ordinary dishes.

京都 知恩院 除夜の鐘 - Kyoto Chionin Temple watch-night bell -

At midnight, many visit a shrine or temple for Hatsumode (初詣).

Another regular feature of Omisoka starts at 7:30 pm when public broadcaster NHK airs Kohaku Uta Gassen ("Red vs White singing contest"), one of the country's most-watched television programs. Popular singers (and singing groups) split into two teams, women in the red team and men in the white, which then alternate while competing for the audience's heart throughout the evening. At around 11:30 pm, the final singer (or group) sings, and the audience and a panel of judges are asked to cast their votes to decide which team sang better. The winning team gets a trophy and "the winners' flag." The program ends at about 11:45 pm. Programming then switches to coverage of midnight celebrations around the country.

Throughout Japan, Shinto shrines prepare amazake to pass out to crowds that gather as midnight approaches. Most have a large cast bell (see bonsho for photos) that is struck once for each of the 108 earthly desires believed to cause human suffering.

By TS on Dec 31, 2011
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