The end of the year in Japan is a mysterious time.
After we celebrate Christmas Eve on the 24th of December, everyone cleans their houses (O-souji), workplaces and buildings, while being thankful we clean.
The 31st of Decemeber we call Oomisoka. This is where we go to temples and ring the big bells. This is a custom called, “Joya no Kane” (Ringing of the New Year’s Bells). The bells are very large, and are struck with a large wooden hammer.
The bells ring 108 times; they say that is the same amount of times as the sins of man, and if he listens to them all he will be cleansed of his sins, however every temple from about 9 PM to about 2 AM continues to ring their bells, so really no one can tell how many times they ring them. (Haha.)
In the new year, we visit shrines for “hatsumoude” which is the first visit to a shrine in the new year.
During that time, we write our goals that we wish to achieve in ink on paper.
This is called “Kakizome” or new year’s resolution.
This is something interesting I think,
Christmas -> Christianity
Joya no Kane -> Buddhism
Hatsumoude -> Shinto
So in the end of the year to the beginning of the New Year, we experience a lot of different religion’s customs.
The scenery of the streets changes from Christmas to the new year.
I’m sure those guests who were able to enjoy the New Year’s Eve in Japan experienced a lot of culture.
There are lots of events left in winter as well!
While looking forward to when the snow paints the temples and shrines white, let’s really enjoy winter in Kyoto together!