Folk Beliefs
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Japanese New Years Traditions

Informant: The only other thing I can think about is some Japanese traditions. It’s very different over there than it has been in Oregon.

 

Interviewer: Yeah sure, which traditions are you talking about.

 

Informant: I mean, there’s New Years, Birthdays, School.

 

Interviewer: I think New Years would be good, I see it represented a lot in Japanese media so it’d be nice to have a personal account.

 

Informant: Ok. It’s similar to America in that there are a lot of fireworks to celebrate at New Years, but before New Years there are a couple of things we do different. Pretty much the entire city cleans up right before New Years, you know, to make sure it is a blank slate, a clean start very literally. Kids usually get money from their parents and sometimes grandparents, my parents would only give me money after I was done cleaning my room and part of the living room.

 

Interviewer: Interesting. Back home we also get money sometimes, but it’s usually during Christmas.

 

Informant: The other noteworthy thing off the top of my head is that basically everyone goes to the shrine on New Years Day.. Like, on January 1st. Usually we all go together, the shrine is always really ******* packed. But we stop by and ask for a good start to the New Year. Other than that… We also do New Years Resolutions, but you write them down and display them somewhere in the house. In my house we did little slips of paper that we stuck in a tree branch in the garden.

 

Analysis

I’d seen several of these traditions in anime, but I always wondered what happened in real life Japan. I’m pleased that most of the portrayals were accurate, and it’s also interesting to draw some comparisons with my experiences during New Years. Catholic families in Mexico also go pray on Jan 1st to receive a good beginning of the Year, however, the tradition is to go to a mass that happens at 12 am!

 

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