FESTIVALS January 2023

Government offices closed Dec. 29 to Jan. 3

Shimin service centers —– Iyotetsu Takashimaya, : Dec. 29 to Jan. 3

Fuji Grand Matsuyama : Dec. 29 to Jan. 3

Banks: Dec. 31 to Jan . 3 / Post offices: Dec. 31 to Jan. 3   

City libraries —- Chuo, Mitsuhama, Hojo : Dec. 29 to Jan. 4

Nakajima Dec.29 to Jan. 3

City passport center: Dec. 29 to Jan. 3 (Fuji Gran Matsuyama Annex 2F)

Jan. 1-3 SHOGATSU (New Year Days)

Shogatsu, more often means a particular period of the New Year, especially the first three days of January. New Year’s Day(Gantan or Ganjitsu) is the most important. People place round rice cakes (kagami-mochi) on the household altar (kami-dana) and/or in the alcove (tokonoma) before New Year’s Day. New Year decorations (shime-kazari, and kadomatsu) are also set up. Family members, even those who live in remote areas, gather together. On the morning of Gantan, people celebrate the New Year with spiced sake (toso), special New Year’s food (osechi-ryori) and rice cakes boiled with vegetables (zoni). People enjoy reading New Year’s cards (nenga-jo). Many people pay the year’s first visit to temples and shrines (hatsu-mode). Children are given good luck gifts or money (otoshidama).

        A New Year’s Dictionary

SHIMEKAZARI A sacred decoration made of straw, two fern leaves and daidai (a small citrus). It is hung above entrance doors and various places, even in front of cars.
More extravagant than shimekazari is kadomatsu. It is made of bamboo, pine and plum tree branches and set on both sides of a gate or entryway.
TOSO Toso is prepared by soaking a tososan bag in sake or mirin (sweet sake) overnight. Tososan is a mixture of herbs and was originally prepared by the great Chinese doctor Kada of ancient times. Toso is taken on New Year’s Day to cleanse oneself of malice and to live long, a custom that dates from the Heian era (794-1191). You can get tososan at drug stores the week before New Year’s Day.
OSECHI-RYORI *Kazunoko (herring roe) symbolizes prosperity because it is a clump of many eggs.
*Kuromame (black beans) are chosen because ‘mame
 means hard working.
*Gobo (burdock root) symbolizes a stable foundation because the root of gobo grows deep into the ground.

(sweet chestnut paste) is chosen because the word ‘kuri‘ sometimes means mastery.

*Kohaku Kamaboko (red and white boiled fish paste) is prepared because red and white are auspicious colors.

ZONI Zoni is a special soup served with pieces of rice cake (mochi)
in it. The ingredients vary with the region.
NENGA-JO New Year’s cards called nenga-jo are posted during December and delivered in a batch on New Year’s day. People make the cards in various ways, such as wood block prints, calligraphy and picture prints. Nowadays e-nengajo are becoming more popular than cards.

If there has been a death in the family the past year you do not send nenga-jo and no one should send them to you because you are still in mourning.

This is the first visit of the year to temples and shrines. People pray for good health and fortune throughout the year. Gokoku-jinja is the most popular place for hatsu-mode in Matsuyama. White arrows named “hamaya” are often sold as good luck charms.
OTOSHIDAMA This is a gift of money given to children. The money is put in a small envelope. The amount ranges from 1,000 yen to as much as 10,000 or more depending on the age of and relationship to the child..

Early Jan. HATSU-URI (First Sales)
Many stores have special bargains to celebrate the re-opening after the New Year’s holidays. “Good fortune bags” containing various goods (fuku-bukuro) are often sold at a very reasonable price, but you take a chance because you don’t know what they contain until you open them.

Nanakusa-gayu is a porridge of rice made with haru-no-nanakusa, seven spring herbs. Eating nanakusa-gayu on January 7th has been a traditional event for a long time. In the Edo era (1603-1867) this event was one of the go-sekku, five seasonal festivals, and the shogun and his men would celebrate it. The porridge is said to cure every disease, so Japanese still enjoy eating it on this day after the celebration and feasting over New Year’s.

Jan. 9 SEIJIN-NO-HI (Coming-of-Age Day) National Holiday

In Japan people celebrate the coming of age of those who will turn twenty during the course of that particular year. Ceremonies for those young people are held all over Japan by local governments. From the age of twenty, young people are expected to have a sense of responsibility as adults and members of society, having already acquired the right to vote.

Matsuyama city Seijin shiki (Ceremony)

In Matsuyama a coming-of-age celebration will be held on January 8 and invitation cards have already been sent to those who were born between April 2, 2002 and April 1, 2003 and have Matsuyama city resident cards on November 1, including those of foreign nationalities.

Further information: Matsuyama City Office Chiiki-gakushu-shinkoka

Tel: 089-948-6813 / E-mail: hatachi@city.matsuyama.ehime.jp

Jan. 8-9 HATSUNE-SAN  Yu-jinja shrine In Dogo

According to legend, Okuninushino-mikoto, the god of the shrine, was saved by a mouse (=ne). In the past, the festival was held on the first day of ‘ne‘ in November by the lunar calendar. Now it is held on Coming-of-Age Day and the day before. Visitors pray for their family’s happiness, longevity, or success in business etc. They take their old paper charms and New Year decorations to the shrine because they shouldn’t be thrown out with the garbage. Shrine priests purify and burn them (dondo-yaki). Fuku-mochi (lucky rice cakes) are scattered four times a day, which people scramble to get for good fortune in the New Year. Atari-kuji (prizes) are hidden in some mochi.

Mochi-maki      8th 11:00, 13:00, 15:00, 17:00 / 9th 10:00, 12:00, 14:30, 16:00

Dondo-yaki      8th 14:00 / 9th 13:00

There are many events such as Shishimai (lion dance), Suigun-daiko (Japanese drum performance), fukubiki (lotteries), ashi-yu (foot bath) and Madonna–chaya (café).

(Tel. 089-921-0480)

Tondo -yaki is a fire festival in some regions where people pray for good health and prosperity in the New Year by gathering bamboo, wood, and New Year’s decorations from their homes, such as shimenawa and kadomatsu, and burning them together. Tondo-yaki is held early in the morning or at night. You can see the festival in many places, and the date varies according to the place.

Jan. 28-30 TSUBAKI-MATSURI (Camellia festival)     Tsubaki-jinja shrine  

This is one of the most famous festivals in Matsuyama and is held at the coldest time of the year at Iyozuhiko-no-mikoto-jinja commonly known as Tsubaki-jinja shrine. In Matsuyama, it is said that spring won’t come until after this festival. The patron of prosperity and good luck is enshrined here and Tsubaki-jinja is popular with merchants and businessmen who wish for better luck in business. Beside the offering box at the main building, there is a place where you borrow 20 yen, which is called mamori-gane (protective money) in a small envelope from the shrine during the festival. The next year you must go back to the shrine to give thanks and pay back double the money after working hard for a year. This ritual custom is called kashi-zeni (lending money). On the evening of the middle day of the festival, another sacred ritual event called Oshinobi no togyo is held. The shrine god is moved to a mikoshi (portable shrine) and the men who carry it to the torii gate do not speak, try not to tremble under the weight. After passing through the gate, they carry it to Kotohira-jinja in Kitadoi-cho calling loudly to each other.

Many stalls line the street with good luck products for sale, such as otayan-ame (special candies for the festival), lucky bamboo grass rakes and treasure ships. We are forbidden to eat while walking. Please take care!

(Tel. 089-956-0321)

NOTES: Events might be canceled or postponed to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus infection. Please check the latest information.

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HAIKU January 2023