Celebrated from 31st of December to 3rd January, Japanese New Year Eve is a big occasion and one of the highlights of the season.
- As the old year's end draws near, people begin cleaning their homes and workplaces. This is a time of major cleaning and even temples dust off their Buddhist images. News programs often show the cleaning of major Buddhist images such as the Nara Great Buddha (Nara Daibutsu) with monks climbing the images to clean them.
- Many people gather with their families on New Year's Eve to watch the Red and White Song Festival (Kohaku uta gassen) broadcast by the national television station.
- During midnight, Buddhist temples toll out the requisite 108 peals on their bells summoning in the New Year. People at the shrines cast coins and paper money at the doorsteps of the shrine. After making their offering, they clap their hands to summon the gods, and then pray. Having welcomed in the New Year at home, people go off to sleep, hoping to dream of a hawk, Mt. Fuji, or an eggplant, which are considered to be auspicious for the Japanese New Year.
- Food also forms the main part for Japanese New Year. Traditionally, New Year's food is placed in nestable, lacquered boxes. Most popular items include candied black beans, fish eggs attached to seaweed, dasheens, kelp, and fish. Another popular New Year's food with a regional flavor is the New Year's soup known as ozoni.
Buckwheat noodles are also eaten during the day or the evening to ensure prosperity and longevity. The noodles are called toshikoshi soba (buckwheat noodles for passing the year) and are eaten at a buckwheat noodle shop (sobaya) or at home.
Dgreetings.com offers you a condensed summary of Japanese New Year.